Herald and Journal, September 28, 1998

Task force wants neutral party to choose school site

By ANDREA VARGO

The Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School Board agreed last Monday to hire the architect it normally uses, Abendroth, Rego, and Youngquist of Wayzata, to evaluate current facilities and do a site analysis for a possible new school building.

The contract for the projects is for approximately $17,000 with any over-runs to come out of the six percent fee the firm would charge for the actual school construction.

Board members came to this decision after they had discussed requests from the Long Range Facilities Task Force

Long Range Facilities Task Force co-chair Joe Campbell told the board. "One of the requests the task force would like the board to consider is for a professional site analysis from the architect.

"As you know, the task force has only a general recommendation for a site."

Campbell also said, "From what we have learned, it takes very specific expertise in analyzing the situation, asking the right questions and conducting a thorough and objective search."

"We know location will be very sensitive, and we are recommending that you use a professional that is neutral regarding location," he continued.

"I know this step may be premature, but by the time we have a full report to you, snow may be on the ground, and the task becomes more difficult," Campbell said.

Campbell told the board that it has reached some roadblocks and needs additional information before it can proceed with its work.

With Campbell were co-chair Jack Littfin and some of the 14 active task force members; Gerry Smith, Deb Gatz, and Janet Perry.

"We are looking for guidance," said Campbell.

"I'm pleased to report that while our goal was to have a full report within one year of the initial meeting, it now looks like we will be ready with a final report in November," he said

But in order to do that, the task force is seeking information regarding a current evaluation of the structural and mechanical condition of existing facilities.

The reason for this request is that the task force has tentative recommendations for the continued use of present facilities.

If the facilities have serious or expensive repairs that they are unaware of, those recommendations could change, Campbell explained.

"We don't want any surprises," he said.

"I believe you have the proposal from the architect, which has a $3,000 fee for a cursory review of facilities," said Campbell.

The additional $14,000 would be for the site analysis. The board agreed to the contract with the architect on the condition the wording for abandoning the contract was clear.

Board members questioned whether or not the district should ask for bids from other firms.

Superintendent Riley Hoheisel told the board that he felt very comfortable with the architect's numbers.

The architect sharpened his pencil for the district and came under what is usual for this kind of thing, said Hoheisel.

Mary Pettit, board member, said "We have used this architect before, and we can still get bids for the main project from others and switch, if we want," she said.

Task force member Gerry Smith told the board, "There is a major dollar value to the fact that this architect's firm has a very sincere interest in our school district, and the people understand our problems."

Said task force co-chair Joe Campbell, "I think the firm is comfortable with where we stand and with what we are doing."

So in the end, the board voted to accept the contract with the clear understanding that the board could look for other bids on the new school construction, if it wished to do so.


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