After seeing two previous attempts fail, the Marshall Public Schools Facility Committee is keenly aware that the proposed location of a new school building is a key component of any future bond issue.
With an eye on the April 2003 election as its next attempt, the Site Selection Subcommittee has spent months examining potential pieces of property. Subcommittee Chairman Scott Hartwig discussed his group's findings at Monday's meeting of the full committee.
Hartwig noted that the months of work by the subcommittee had narrowed the field substantially. He said when the work began there had been a total of 14 sites under consideration. Looking at issues such as how much excavation work would be needed, accessibility and price, the subcommittee ended up with a short list of three properties. These include the Banks property located east of Business Highway 65 and south of Stonehedge Golf Club, the Gieringer property located along Lincoln Avenue between Watermill Road and Route WW and property owned by the city of Marshall located north of Missouri Highway 240 straddling Route O.
The Banks property
Hartwig said the subcommittee liked this property for a number of reasons including its accessibility, visibility and physical location.
In addition to being located on Business 65, the property also has road access via the Lincoln Avenue extension on its east side and County Road 206 to its south. Unfortunately, these roads are both gravel and would need improvement to be utilized by the district. In addition, Business 65 would need to be widened and a traffic light would need to be installed. Hartwig said these costs were estimated at around $500,000 by district architect Michael Kautz.
Hartwig said the location of the property would be good for two reasons. First, it would be seen by those people entering the city from the south and could serve as a first impression for the Marshall community. In addition, vocal opponents in the last election had indicated a preference for a more southerly location.
While it has positive aspects, the Banks property also has some drawbacks. In addition to the cost of road improvements, the land currently lacks utilities and it would cost about $400,000 to have them installed. Hartwig said there could also be a problem with odor coming from a nearby hog farm operation.
An issue that could be either positive or negative depending on one's perspective is that all students would have to be bused to the school, Hartwig said.
The land would be made available for about $10,000 per acre. Purchasing 40 acres, along with needed street improvements and utility service extensions, would bring the estimated cost of this property to $1,300,000.
The Gieringer property
Like the Banks property, the Gieringer property was considered in previous bond issues. It was also liked for its accessibility and location. The property actually contains about 125 acres, far more than the district currently needs. Hartwig said the southwest portion of the property near the junction of Route WW and Lincoln Avenue would probably best serve the district's needs.
This site has the benefit of good accessibility, without the safety concerns of being on a major highway. Hartwig noted residents of the area may be opposed to the increased traffic in the area, and in particular the number of buses which would travel through the neighborhoods.
Another benefit of the site is its close proximity to Missouri Valley College, which could allow cooperative educational agreements to develop, Hartwig said.
Unlike the other properties considered, the Gieringer land does have utility lines running through it. However, the land lies outside of Marshall Municipal Utilities' service area and would need to be annexed into the city.
The price of the Gieringer property varies depending on which portion would be purchased. The price per acre ranges from $8,000 to $11,000. Hartwig estimated it would cost about $440,000 to purchase the needed amount of land at this site.
It was the consensus of the full committee that street work would also be needed for this site, but that such work would probably cost less than the $500,000 estimated for the other locations.
The city-owned property
The clear advantage of the city-owned property is that it would be donated to the district. However, it would need both utility services and improvement to the intersection on Missouri Highway 240. These costs combined are estimated at about $950,000.
The property is split by Route O, with 40 acres being available to the west and 55 acres lying to the east of the road. Either piece would be sufficient for the construction of two elementary schools.
Like the Banks property, the city-owned site's location means all students would have to be bused to the school. However, Hartwig noted that its location on Missouri 240 would make it more accessible to students from outlying areas should district consolidation become necessary in future years.
Hartwig said the property's northerly location could be a problem for the voters who want a school located in the south part of the city. He said there could also be opposition because of the proximity of the old city landfill.
After reviewing the work done by the subcommittee, the full committee expressed its appreciation. Rather than take immediate action, however, the group chose to mull over the information and meet once more before voting on which property to include in its recommendation to the Marshall Board of Education.
The full committee will meet again at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 2, to choose a location and finalize other details of the recommendation before presenting it to the school board at its December meeting.