Schools chief Frei advocates bond idea

October 20, 2016 GMT

BULLHEAD CITY — Riley Frei had a captive audience Wednesday, but was given only five minutes to talk about a Colorado River Union High School District bond issue that goes before voters Nov. 8.

Frei, superintendent of the CRUHSD, took advantage of the time given by the Colorado River Republican Women by providing attendees a packet of drawings illustrating the centerpiece project: a multipurpose building that could host all manner of athletic and other events and which, he said, could draw new residents to the area.

Frei also passed out paper listing bullet points in favor of a “yes” vote.

The project also includes campus improvements at Mohave and River Valley high schools.

Those include new libraries and cafeterias, moving the administration building at Mohave to the front of the campus and a new synthetic track at RVHS.

The new athletic venue accounts for the bulk of the bond’s $35 million price tag.

Frei described it as key to district leaders’ goal of providing a “world-class education.”

The Colorado River Event Center, a name administrators have been using when talking about the project, would be used for RVHS and MHS athletic events, and could host other events, including regional level soccer and volleyball tournaments.

Besides regulation football or soccer fields, a preliminary design shows the venue holding eight basketball courts or 16 volleyball courts. Frei said that the field house would permit the simultaneous playing of 48 games of pickleball, a sport growing in popularity among local seniors, and that it could provide a cool location favored by mall walkers.

Another pitch has been that the field house would largely be operated by CRUHSD students. The venue would have a kitchen, training space and a business center, all staffed by students, working under a paid general manager. He said that students in upper-level career and technical education would get real-life training at the field house.

Frei said that the building could host activities as varied as soccer tournaments, senior games and robotics competitions, and could leave out-of-town visitors with a favorable impression of the area, perhaps bringing in new residents and entrepreneurs.

He noted that tournaments already hosted by the schools bring in dozens of teams and generate new revenue, an economic development factor he thinks the field house will increase.

His presentation also touched on a couple of questions that have come up regarding the project. Frei said the high school district is the appropriate entity to build the field house because it wouldn’t be profitable for a private company (which would have higher overhead and need to charge admission to more events), and that other bodies can’t “tax bridge to bridge.”

The proposed site is at the southern end of Bullhead City. Frei said that if the city government built the venue, then it alone would pay for it and “everybody else would use it for free.”

Frei said the bond measure essentially replaces a 2004 bond that raised $21 million and was paid off last fiscal year.

The bond’s passage would mean an additional property tax of 46.7 cents per $100 of assessed value. At that rate, the owner of property valued at $100,000 would pay $46.70 a year toward paying off the debt.

That’s just under $4 a month, which Frei called “affordable and realistic.”

Frei said that low interest rates and new commercial and residential growth will mean more property owners are around to foot the bill, lessening the burden on each.

Mohave County Supervisor Hildy Angius asked if the district has affirmation that it can use the proposed site, which is state-owned land. Frei said he’s confident that the access can be obtained through the Arizona School Facilities Board and, if not, the CRUHSD has an option on an adjacent parcel.

For the campus renovations, Frei said, libraries and cafeterias would be combined and outfitted with new technology in an “internet cafe” concept.

“We’re trying to create much more of a culturally encouraging atmosphere,” he said.

Frei has made about 12 presentations on the proposal around the community. He’ll host a question-and-answer session at 10 a.m. today at the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce building, 1251 Highway 95.

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