Board to choose site tonight

MEEKER — After months of community debate, the Meeker School District Re-1 School Board appears likely to make a final selection for the site of a new elementary school at tonight’s meeting. The board will meet at 7 p.m. in the district building, 555 Garfield St.
The district conducted a daylong working session Tuesday to allow the public a third opportunity to interact both with board members and members of the design and construction team from The Neenan Company.
Approximately 40 community members attended the first working session at 2 p.m., and another 30 or so were at the last session just before 8 p.m. Other community members attended sessions throughout the day.
Board president Mary Strang said the community participation during the work session made it “a good day.” She added that issues still remain, such as placement of a sewer line and changes to the throwing field.
Some community members voiced wariness about paying for the new building.
“They should figure out a way for everybody to pay for it,” said Carol Parr. She objected to local property owners being the only ones to pay back the bonds through their property taxes. Parr said she’d like to see a sales tax or other broad assessment.
Several board members and members of the public again questioned sewer issues at the preferred site, so-called Site 2, located behind the bus barn at the high school on 24 acres. However, new information became available after the meeting.
“The Neenan people went back out to shoot some more elevations for a sewer line for Site 2, resulting in a possible alternative to a sewer lift station for the site,” Strang said. “There’s a little more homework to be done, but it looks workable.”
Site 3, higher on the hillside and on the ridgeline, might have enough vertical drop for running a sewage line with a pump station, but that site also would require additional costs in other areas, possibly including earthmovingh, additional road length and other factors.
Another change that seemed to be accepted by most of the participants in the late evening session was the general building design. Neenan’s staff explained the building’s preliminary design is now an “L”-shaped, two-story plan instead of having wings on both sides. This takes into account the character of the hillside and building orientation, with the classroom windows facing north so the rooms don’t overheat.
Neenan Architect Mike Daley said the design allows for expansion, should the district grow. Currently, the building would hold approximately 390 pre-school through fifth-grade students.
Daley added that the building uses the “pod” concept, which takes the classrooms away from the main hallway and encourages collaborative learning. Pod design also allows grouping of same or similar grade levels.
The building also features sloping roofs and uses a “mountain town” design. Many members of the public, as well as board members, said they preferred the sloped roof to help shed snow.
In addition, the building’s proposed location in Site 2 is roughly 18 feet above the 100-year flood plain. This means that in any given year, there is a 1 percent chance of 100-year flood levels occurring in any given year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It does not mean these floods occur only once every 100 years, according to USGS.