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North Crawford board gets report on fitness center building design
accommodating fitness grant
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The North Crawford School Board heard a report from an architectural firm on a revised proposal for a $1.2 million dollar building addition to accommodate more school exercise facilities and a community wellness center.

Daniel Blumer and Brant Simonson, representing HSR Associates, made the presentation at the last board meeting held on Thursday, Sept. 19.

Architect Brant Simonson explained to the board how the project had been reworked at their request to become a smaller and more affordable building than the one originally proposed. The original proposal called for a total of 8,556 square feet at a cost, including a five percent contingency fund, of $1,775,303. The revised design called for just 5,644 square feet of new construction to be used in conjunction with 942 square feet of renovated empty classroom space for a total of 6,586 square feet of space at a cost, including the contingency fund, of $1,272,390.

Simonson told the board he viewed the reworked design as having a “very doable budget.” The $1,272,390 budget was complete for the project except for furnishings, Simonson said.

Also on hand to answer questions about he project was Judd Eastman, the high school phy ed teacher who’s involved with implementing the school’s large PEP Grant aimed at increasing physical fitness and enhancing wellness among students, staff and, ultimately, the greater community.

Eastman told the board that their concerns about having too much of a certain type of exercise equipment were legitimate, but could be easily addressed by adjustments in the orders placed. He emphasized what was important in terms of the grant was to maintain a dollar amount of equipment ordered.

The phy ed teacher went on to explain that it was necessary to have a variety of equipment based on what was being targeted. He mentioned different equipment would be needed to reach out to seniors, to accommodate rehabilitation, to assist athletes or to serve the needs of recreational exercisers.

While the grant specifies it is to be used only for students and staff for the first three years, it opens up the use of equipment and facilities to the broader community after that. The first year of the grant ended on August 1 of 2013. So that means sometime after August 1, 2015 the equipment and facility could be opened to the public.

Simonson explained that HSR was interested in getting a feeling from the board for the direction they wanted to take so the firm could keep refining the design.

When the architect talked about a building code required square footage to accommodate 80 people, it prompted questions about the necessary space from board member Miguel Morga. He wondered how often the building would have 80 people in it.

Simonson said the code was for allowable capacity and that 80 people would create a “pretty crowded” facility.

Morga then asked how often there would 40 people present. Eastman offered that there would be 20-25 students in the facility during the school year.

Morga said his concern was that the facility would be too big for the amount of use. He cited the Viroqua pool and the Overture Center in Madison as examples of projects that were ultimately overbuilt.

HSR’s Blumer assured Morga that the building code for capacity was a somewhat arbitrary figure.

School board president Mary Kuhn told the consultants that she felt it was a “worthwhile project to pursue.”

“How long will it (the building) last?” Morga asked.

Simonson indicated the building should last 50 years, but its longevity would actually be determined by how well it was maintained.

Board member Terry O’Donnell agreed that the progress on the design to date looked good.

“I guess we move forward and get the design ready to present to the public,” O’Donnell said. “If it doesn’t fly, we can take the three classrooms and just make it for school use. If we don’t have the outside space it cuts off public access.”

Board member Michael Bedessem had an overall positive reaction to the reworked design.

“I like the scale and I like the design,” Bedessem said. “I like the bathrooms being available from the outside for outdoor events. Would I like it to be less? Yes, but we need to determine the function of the building and see if we’re getting value for the money to serve the purpose it’s going to serve.”

The board members present agreed they were comfortable moving forward and asked when they should begin looking for contractors.

Blumer replied that there should be one more level of design work completed by HSR before contractors are involved.

In other business, the North Crawford School Board:

• moved the October school board meeting to Thursday, Oct. 24

• approved Liz Bransky to serve as an assistant cross-country coach because of the high number of athletes participating this year

• approved an early graduation request for Aubrey Stevenson to graduate at the end of the semester

• approved 2013-14 contracts for supervisory and administrative staffs to include a 2.07 percent raise

• approved the teachers contract with a 2.07 percent raise

• appointed Nate McKittrick as the new National Honor Society Advisor