NEWMAN - Sticker shock has put a planned parking lot/tennis court project at Orestimba temporarily on hold.

School board members last week rejected the only two bids they received, which were well over twice the initial cost estimates on the project.

Superintendent Randy Fillpot said the district plans to utilize $1.2 million in remaining funds from the Measure R school bond measure to reconfigure the Orestimba High parking lot so access is off Hardin Road, build four new tennis courts on what is now an unpaved overflow parking area and create two additional tennis courts in nearby Lions Park where the old skate park stands.

Fillpot said the district believed the project could be completed for less than $1 million - only to see the bids come in at $2.6 million and $3 million.

“Unfortunately, although there were quite a few contractors who came to the walk-through, only two bid and both were over $2.5 million,” Fillpot explained in recommending that the board reject the bids and seek new proposals at a later date.

The planned improvements serve both to position Orestimba High for the future addition of a new locker room complex south of the existing gymnasium and to replace the aging tennis courts now in place.

“The tennis courts, which are used by the community as well, are getting pretty worn out,” Fillpot said. “We have sealed the cracks every year. We are going to have at least one more year of trying that again.”

By adding two courts in the nearby city-owned park, Orestimba would have available the six courts ideally needed to host matches.

The improvement plans also leave space for the potential construction of a swimming pool at the southeast corner of campus. That project is among the improvements planned if an upcoming bond, Measure X, is approved by district voters in the Nov. 3 election. The pool would be available for community use outside school hours.

But the planned parking lot/tennis court project will wait for now.

“The bids that are coming in right now are way too high,” Fillpot said. “We just kind of think that construction companies are not that hungry right now.”

The district could make some modifications to the project, he noted.

If Measure X is approved, Fillpot said, the district could consider bidding the parking lot, tennis courts and swimming pool as one overall project in hopes of gaining efficiencies of scale.

The district could also drop the two Lions Park tennis courts from the project to shave costs. In the two bids received, the cost of including those two courts was quoted at $664,000 and $703,000.

“Most likely we are just going to need to wait until there is a little better (bidding) environment,” Fillpot stated. “Right now contractors are pretty busy. They have their work lined up for a while. That is part of why the bids came in on the high side.”