Proposed addition of auditorium and fitness center will be the topic of meeting on Thursday

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 10/6/99.

A proposed $3.4 million auditorium and fitness center will be the topic of an information meeting on Thursday, Oct. 7, at 8 p.m. in the Paynesville Area High School commons area.

The Paynesville Facility Study Task Force has been researching the project for almost a year. The construction proposal will accommodate the educational program needs of the school district (1,220 students) as well as use by the community .

On hand to help answer questions at the public meeting will be: Troy Miller, a Paynesville graduate representing the DLR architectural firm of Minneapolis; the construction manager from E&V Coinsultants and Construction managers, Minneapolis; a representative from Ehlers and Associates, the financial advisors for the district; school board members, and Dr. Bob Gardner, task force chairman.

"We have had a general demand for a facility like this for years," Pat Flanders, board chairman, said. "In the past we have never had the opportunity for the state to assist in payment on such a project, thus making this an opportune time."

In 1990, the Minnesota Legislature created debt equalization to allow property poor districts to build school buildings. Of the $3.4 million price tag, the state will cover about 46 percent of the project cost, $1.5 million. The local share of the bond issue will be $1.9 million.

An education credit will lessen the tax impact. According to Flanders, this is the first year for the education credit.

Flanders added that Paynesville has always supported big community events. The auditorium could be used for many uses. "The fitness facility, which is commonplace in many districts, has been in demand for a long time. Both facilities can be used by the community and not just the school," Flanders said.

The new auditorium will have tiered seating area for an audience of up to 499 persons, plus handicapped positions. The stage area would be 2,500 square feet with dressing rooms, lighting, sound system, backstage shop, and storage areas.

The adjacent fitness center would be about 2,900 square feet with room for an enclosed office and about 14 equipment stations, aerobic equipment, plus a free weight area.

A new entrance and lobby area would be located between the new facilities and the existing high school gym. The new facility could be closed off from the rest of the school after hours.

Both the new auditorium and fitness center would be located on the north side of the present school facility where the tennis courts are now positioned. A new public entrance would be constructed on the north side for people using the fitness center, auditorium, or attending school sporting events. The north parking lot would be used as the primary lot for local sporting events and activities, thus eliminating the long walk to the west entrance.

Presently, the district does not have an auditorium or theater facility. School music programs, lyceum programs, and theater productions are rehearsed around physical fitness classes and school athletic practices and events.

The present weight facility is about 500 square feet for free weights, miscellaneous equipment, and a universal gym unit in the basement.

"The district has three tennis courts whose useful life has expired, located where the proposed facility addition would be built. If the bond is approved, four new courts would be constructed in the vacant area between the school garage and vocational building," Flanders said.

If the bond issue is approved, construction could start in the summer of 2000. The project could be completed by the spring of 2001.

"When we first started talking about the possibility of adding an auditorium and fitness center to the school, we didn't feel the timing was right. Now, after looking at the improved economy, and debt equalization aid, we feel the time is right," Howard Caldwell, superintendent, said.

As part of the project, a new ventilation system would be added to help improve air quality in the basement locker rooms and wrestling room, Caldwell said

"The state is using the surplus to help defray taxes through education credits. This will help offset the tax impact on local property owners," Caldwell stressed.

"I encourage people to attend the meeting, whether you are for or against, to learn more about the proposed project," Flanders said.

Voters will be going to the polls on Dec. 14 to decide the issue.

Special public meeting
Thursday, Oct. 7, 8 p.m., high school commons area

• Welcome: Pat Flanders, board chairperson

• Presentation of the building needs: Deb Glenz, Bob Gardner, Troy Miller, DLR, architect group

• Construction schedule: Gretchen O'Fallon and construction manager from E&V Consulting and Construction Managers.

• Financing and costs: Pat Flanders and financial advisors from Ehlers and Associates

• Questions and answers

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