By Lois E Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

School board discusses athletic complex

 

Graphic provided

Proposed athletic facilities and parking lot expansion.

The Moose Lake School Board discussed the athletic complex near the new school on Thursday, June 28, during a working meeting.

City Administrator Tim Peterson met with the board to discuss two issues, the proposed gas franchise fee and the need for the replacement of one softball/little league field.

Peterson explained that the city is discussing a gas franchise fee on natural gas from Minnesota Energy Resources. The fee would be charged to residents within the city limits at $1 and $1.50 per meter per month.

"Seventy percent of the city property is tax exempt," Peterson told the board. "Thirty percent of the property owners in the city are paying the taxes. The franchise fee would be applied to 100 percent of the property owners in the city. The fee would raise $40,000-45,000 a year, with $15,000 of that total coming from the residents. The school's portion would be $1,500 per year."

The income from the fee would be used for upgrades to roads and utilities, Peterson added.

"The cost of reconstructing a half mile of road, including water and sewer, is $2 million," Peterson told the board. "The income from this fee doesn't solve the problem but it is another step towards it. It is really, really expensive to do those projects."


Superintendent Robert Indihar asked about the process to implement the fee.

Peterson replied a new city ordinance would have to be written and passed. That takes two city council meetings, he said. He estimated that it may be a six-month process before the fee was in place.

In speaking about the proposal by the school board about adding a cloverleaf of athletic fields behind the new school, Peterson replied the city is interested in using one of the fields.

"We have two softball/little league fields in the city, Halverson Field and Twilight Field," said Peterson. "I'd like to replace Halverson Field behind the old school and extend the city campground into that area. It makes sense that all of the fields are in one area. It can be more like a community gathering spot."

Peterson explained the city could contribute financially to one of the fields in the proposed cloverleaf of fields.

"We could issue revenue bonds to install water and sewer services to the campsites in the new campground area," he explained. "We would feel comfortable contributing towards the cost of the field over a 10- or 15-year period of time."

Peterson said it would not be easy to replace Twilight Field.

School Board members Jamie Jungers and Kris Lyons agreed.

"I'd like to see improvements there," said Jungers. "We need to communicate with the baseball association to discuss it."

Lyons said the field was well done when it was built.

Peterson asked the school board to bring a plan and cost estimates to the city council for review.

The board then took a tour of the fields in the athletic complex.

After they returned, Board Chair Steve Blondo wrote a list of projects that the board members would like to see at the complex and for the cloverleaf fields behind the school.

Each of the board members were asked to initial four of their priorities.

High on the list was building a second parking lot on the corner of the complex just south of the entrance to the existing school parking lot and building the playground for early childhood students.

Indihar pointed out that $300,000 was available to invest in the athletic complex, once the fields that are under construction are completed.

The track has been completed, and the baseball field was nearing completion.

One of the high priorities is a building for concession stand, ticket sales, restrooms and storage.

The cost estimate on a list of estimates for various portions of the complex was $300,000 for the building.

Indihar pointed out that it would be too costly for a sewer line to be connected to the school's line. The project would have to include the installation of a mound system.

Another priority was building a grandstand by the baseball field.

"That's what the kids deserve," said Jungers. "Bleachers there are not enough."

A grandstand by the track is needed but not right away.

"We wouldn't have a meet there for several years," said Anderson-Reed.

The board members agreed that the remaining athletic complex needs to be completed. A bond referendum was suggested.

"With the money that we have left, we have to go after a bond or it is not going to happen," said Jungers.

"Let's get these things done and then explore the cloverleaf," added Board Member Lisa Anderson-Reed.

The board decided to gather information and illustrations to bring to the coaches and the public but no date was set for a public meeting.

The discussion will continue at the July 16 meeting of the board. A special meeting or working meeting was set for Tuesday, July 17, at 4 p.m.

 

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