Faced with an aging administration building that would require considerable funds to make compliant with current ADA requirements, the USD 443 Board of Education discussed options at its noon meeting Sept. 25.
"An ADA compliant elevator is estimated at $400,000, with ADA compliant restrooms coming in at $100,000 per floor. Sidewalks, steps and walls are estimated between $100,000 and $400,000 and adequate parking would require acquisition of property estimated at $750,000," William Hammond, executive director of business and operations said. "A significant portion of the building lacks updated HVAC systems and is underutilized. In addition, the electrical services need to be upgraded."
GLMV architect Tom Montgomery was on hand at the Central Elementary meeting to discuss options with the board.
"We can talk about the pros and cons of each site and hopefully we can narrow it down and see if we want to go forward," he said. "We can go through the major options the board has directed us to look at."
Those options include the Trails West building east of The Learning Center, property by Ross Elementary and adding on to the Civic Center.
"If we were to do an addition for the size we need at Trails West, we would have to raze that portion of the building and expand into the parking lot to the south," Montgomery explained. "This would allow us to have some shared opportunities with The Learning Center; so from a functionality stand point, we think it could be a possibility."
Montgomery did point out that neither GLMV nor the district has spoken to the landlord of that property. Another option is to build south of Ross Elementary School.
"There would be access from the back for loading and unloading but patron and staff access would be off Sixth Street," Montgomery said. "We may not be in the correct zone since that is a residential area so we may have to have it rezoned [if the board chose that option]."
At the Civic Center, a building currently owned by the district, Montgomery presented two different options; the first was a two-level addition on the south side for what’s currently housed at The Learning Center, as well as a new administration building.
"We would have to have an adjoining structure for a concourse, a multipurpose area, or just an extra wide corridor to connect the two," he said. "If this was to be the site [chosen by the board], we still have room for a third potential middle school."
Montgomery explained that in order for the district to build a third middle school on that property, the property that used to be the municipal swimming pool would have to be acquired. A third middle school is a potential option to deal with increased enrollment in the future.
"It does allow more opportunities for parking (than other options) and you could have conferences with support spaces in the connecting area for large event-type activities," he said. "If you want something more along the lines of community engagement in conjunction with the Civic Center, this would be the better option."
The second option utilizing the Civic Center would be building to the north.
"Physically and utility wise, we can make all of these sites work," Montgomery said after showing plans for all of the options to the board.
Board President Lisa Killion said that at first glance, building north of the Civic Center "makes the most sense to me." She did; however, question the need for 46,000 square feet.
"9,400 square feet would be conference area," Montgomery said. "There’s a lot of fine tuning left to do."
Board member Jeff Hiers said his original thought was to build anywhere but by the Civic Center.
"I didn’t want to build it in the middle of town," he said. "But if you try and build at Ross, that residential neighborhood would go crazy, and rightfully so. Then looking at Trails West, you’re cramming it in there. That would be tight."
Dr. Fred Dierksen, USD 443 superintendent, pointed out that the district also does not own the Trails West building. He agreed with Hiers that north of the Civic Center would be the best location available.
"I would like to suggest that we ask Tom to focus on the north and see what variations we can look at," Dierksen said. "We can look at smaller models, larger models and something in between."
Hiers said he would also need to see a "pretty detailed plan on how the district is going to pay for the new facility." According to Hammond, the new administration building would be built with no increase in the mill levy. The recommendation from administration is to split the project, utilizing fiscal year 2017-2018, as well as fiscal year 2018-2019 Capital Outlay funds.
"A final source could be the district’s Contingency Reserve fund," Hammond said.
The board’s next regularly-scheduled meeting is Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. in the Austen Board Room.