Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Frustrations mount as building funds run low


Tim Franklin

This April 7 aerial photo of the new Moose Lake Community School building shows the back side of the building. Two playgrounds were to be built, one behind the school for older children and another between the elementary and early childhood wings of the school for younger children. With funds running low, two sites will be prepped, but only the playground behind the school will be built at this time. The athletic complex portion of the build is also being cut back substantially due to lack of funds.

Members of the Moose Lake School Board were extremely frustrated when they learned the track is the only portion of the athletic complex at the new school that will be completed with the funds available in the budget. The news came from Josh Kostiuk, construction services manager from Boldt Construction, the construction managers, at a special meeting of the board on Monday, May 8.

The athletic complex has space for a softball field, a baseball field, a football field and a track. The board had known previously that there had not been enough funds in the budget for the softball field and there would not be enough funds for a fully completed football field. But there were enough funds to complete the baseball field and the track, they had been told inthe past by Katie Hildenbrand of Architectural Resources Inc. (ARI), the architectural firm.

Kostiuk reported he had asked the contractor for the athletic complex to create a track that will last.

"We want to make sure we get the longest life out of the track as possible," he said. "The track will have a base of sand under the paved surface."

Kostiuk explained facilities for other track events will be included with the circular track.

"You'll have a fully-functioning track," he said. "There will be facilities for discus, shot put, long jump, high jump, triple jump. The high jump will be inside of the track."

Communications equipment will also be installed to the track area for two-way communication.

That part of the project also included the basketball court at the playground behind the school.

A well and irrigation system will not be installed in the track area or any of the complex because of the high cost.

Kostiuk was asked if there were any funds remaining in the $1 million-plus contingency fund. "There is $70,000, but $50,000 of that has to be reserved in case it is needed by the contractors," he said. "There may be $20,000 available."

Board member Jamie Jungers pointed out there could be 300 people at the sectionals for track meets.

"Where is everybody going to go to the bathroom?" he asked. "We can bring in toilets, but I thought we were better than that."

Kostiuk reported the building will be completed by May 31. A contractor is completing the landscaping around the building.

The site preparation on the athletic fields and playgrounds will take place through June, and then another contractor will come in the first full week after the Fourth of July and build the track area.

"The asphalt can be done and left over winter," said Kostiuk. "It could be possible that the track would not be done until early spring. But our full intention is that the track will be completed before school starts."

Superintendent Robert Indihar summed up the situation. "We are not in a good place right now," he said. "The building is bought and paid for. I recommend we not have a baseball field. We still have the baseball field at this site. We will have time to figure out a solution."

He also recommended the board have one playground built, not two, as the Playground Committee had recommended.

One of the playgrounds, measuring 54 feet by 91 feet, which was to be located between the elementary and early childhood wings of the school, would be designed for pre-K through second grade age groups.

The other playground, at 90 feet by 75 feet, will be located behind the school for the older elementary students. The basketball court would be part of the playground.

Elementary Principal Kraig Konietzko reported the Playground Committee recommended purchasing equipment from Miracle Recreation Equipment, which included installation. The estimated cost of the equipment for the smaller playground was $35,449, and for the larger playground was $122,620.62.

"One of the pieces would be a 20-foot tower slide," he said. "It was the wow factor. There will be a five-week turnaround time after we order it. We were guaranteed that the playground equipment would be installed by Labor Day."

Indihar said the school will be purchasing mulch for the playground separately, and that cost would not be part of the cost estimate for the playground.

Board member Kris Lyons said buddy benches would be placed on the playground. "The buddy benches are a place where a child can go and sit," she said. "A friend can come over and they can talk. It is an anti-bullying concept that has come out."

Teacher Paul Olson, who was at the meeting, said the PTA has spoken of furnishing the buddy benches and some trees.

The board passed a motion to have the larger playground built in the amount of $122,620.62. The site for the second smaller playground will be prepared, but no equipment will be ordered.

Julie Duesler of the Mini Moose Lodge was at the meeting and said there may be a fundraising campaign to raise the funds for the playground for the smallest children.

The monthly board meeting has been set for May 22 at 6 p.m.


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