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Architect Selected For Auxiliary Gym

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By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

The Glenwood Community School District Board of Directors has tabbed HSR Associated, Inc. to design and spec the district’s proposed $3.5 million gymnasium and locker room addition to the high school.

At last Monday’s regularly-scheduled school board meeting, the board voted 3-2 to retain the La Crosse, Wisc. architectural, engineering and interior design firm from a group of applicants that made their pitch to be the district’s architect at a Jan. 10 special board meeting.

Glenwood Community School District Superintendent Devin Embray knew the board was deadlocked following the Jan. 10  meeting between Omaha-based Prochaska & Associates, Des Moines-based FRK Architects and Engineers and HSR. He requested additional information from each firm to get “side-by-side comparisons” of proposals to board members with the hope more information would make the decision easier. The board spent 45 minutes debating the merits of each firm’s proposal at last Monday’s meeting.

After board members Michelle Bahr and Dave Blum both voted for HSR, Ann Staiert and Craig Patzer forced a tiebreaker when they chose Prochaska. Board President Theresa Romens cast the deciding vote in favor of HSR.

“They had a good presentation,” she said. “I just thought that they wanted to have an aggressive timeline and we’re real comfortable with that. Their price per square footage was what we thought it would be. They seemed to want to be flexible with us for design. I felt very comfortable with them and they answered all our questions.”    

HSR’s estimated square footage price was actually the highest in a price comparison among the four finalists supplied to The Opinion-Tribune.

HSR estimates its square footage cost at $169 while Prochaska ($140), FEH ($135-$160) and FRK ($120) were all lower. Romens isn’t concerned about that particular estimate for two reasons: HSR’s “soft costs” were between $35,000 and $78,000 less that other bidders and she thinks an estimated $169 per square foot is a “real realistic” price.

“(School board member) Dave Blum is in construction and from when we talked to some other people, this seems like the average,” Romens said. “We were a little worried about the $120 cost (with FRK) because it seemed a little to low.

“We know this is going to cost us $3.5 million. We’re going to spend that. We just want to have a realistic price going in.”

Embray said HSR will design and spec the project and then provide construction oversight when the general contractor is hired following a competitive bidding process.

The high school addition, which would be on the north side of the building, will house an auxiliary gymnasium, locker rooms and allow for an expanded weight room and wrestling room.

The board met with Tim Oswald from Piper Jaffray, the district’s accounting firm, at Monday’s meeting to discuss financing options for the project. Embray said both a loan and a revenue bond are being considered. However, Embray said, a revenue bond seems to be the financial option the board is favoring.

“I don’t think interest rates would benefit the district right now in regards to a loan (for the project),” Embray said.   

A revenue bond would not require a public vote and would be financed through the district’s SAVE (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education) dollars it receives through a one-cent sales surtax.
These funds are currently being used for reducing existing bond issue debt as well as technology and building improvements in the district.

According to figures provided by the district, the school district estimates annual revenue bond payments on the gym will be about $250,000 per year until 2029 with a payback of about $1.2 million in interest.
Embray expects the financing decisions to be finalized in March.

Romens said the auxiliary gymnasium was part of the original 2007 blueprint when the new high school was planned but was scrapped due to budget constraints at the time.

Embray said the addition to the high school would likely include a full-length basketball floor, seven or eight rows of bleachers on both sides of the court, a 3,000-square foot locker room area and 3,000-square foot wrestling and weight room area above the locker room.

School district personnel have said by adding a full-size gym, GCHS student athletes and their families will benefit by cutting down on the number of students who have to participate in early morning or late evening practice sessions.

Embray said the district hopes to break ground this fall and the project should be completed by the opening of the 2015-2016 school year.