Board continues work on facility planning

Courtesy photo: Community Development Director Mike Struck and City Manager Paul Briseno presented the city’s land use plan for roughly the next 20 years to the Brookings School Board on Monday. Difficulties are anticipated with regard to how and where the city will expand based on surrounding flood plain.

City presents land use projections for Brookings, surrounding area

BROOKINGS – The Brookings School Board continued its discussion Monday about a request for qualifications and proposals and a timeline for district facility planning.

The district is seeking architectural and related services specifically related to work at Hillcrest and Medary elementary schools.

Brookings City Manager Paul Briseno and Community Development Director Mike Struck presented an update on future goals for the City of Brookings in regard to developing land within the next 20 years and how it impacts the school system.

“About 50% of the households have an annual income of $50,000 or less. And so as we have those conversations, what should the housing in this community look like to address those needs? When you’re looking at … half of your household population is in that income bracket, we have to look at different housing types and means to serve that population to provide them opportunities for stable housing conditions. …We’re a very well-educated community, partly is because of our great school system but also because of the university system in place here,” Struck said.

The map presented at the meeting was developed using the 2040 Comprehensive Plan of the City of Brookings. The slide said, “The Future Land Use Map is based upon population projections, economic trends, environmental analysis and public input.”

Briseno said Brookings faces difficult expansion due to surrounding flood plains. Based on current trends, there is “only 15 years of residential development left,” on a scale of an average of 85 single-family homes being built per year, he said.

Struck discussed how land could be used more efficiently if lot sizes went from 10,000 to 12,000 square feet down to 7,500 square feet.

Superintendent Klint Willert started the discussion about the RFQ specifications and the timeline for hiring an architect and contractor.

“As you know, we have successfully completed the middle school addition, and that project, that is a positive outcome that we’ve had, and now it’s time to start turning our eyes towards Medary and Hillcrest,” Willert said.

“I would direct you to is the statement of qualifications. … Talking a little bit about and understanding how the service that we’re seeking helps with some determination on where we’re growing, how we’re growing, what those impacts may be as we consider school size … and thinking through some of those factors that impact school size,” Willert explained.

“As we define the scope of work, it includes architectural and related services. Looking at the component of our master comprehensive facility plan that specifically addresses Hillcrest and Medary school and looks at doing an assessment to determine the possibility of new construction,” Willert said. Conversations have been held on “determining if we would need a different facility and understanding where that sweet spot is between renovation and replacement.”

Right now, the board is looking for an entity to complete an analysis on what the district needs as well as the potential school renovations versus new construction.

“It’s one thing coming and saying, ‘Boy, we’ve got this great idea on what you should do to your schools.’ It’s completely another to help us understand how we get there,” Willert said.

“What kind of animal are we out here searching for?” board member Van Fishback asked. “Long story short, are we looking for an architect, or are we looking for a consultant? A consultant is going to help us with some of our population analysis. A consultant is going to help us with some of our boundary analysis, and some of the issues – as far as I’m concerned – the public is going to want to have answers for, before construction or even before a major big-league repair takes place.”

Board member Roger DeGroot said the district should hire an architect with the capabilities of a consultant.

“We absolutely want to be good stewards, and I think our community expects, and frankly demands, that of us. There is an expectation, and I would say a fair expectation, that we know that there are issues that need to be identified at Medary and Hillcrest, and we need to answer the call on what we’re going to do about it,” Willert said.

As of right now, there are many unknowns about population growth and how the land around Brookings can and will be developed. The pandemic has likely altered how schools will be populated within the next few years, which has also changed how improvements will be paid for.

A tentative timeline was presented Monday for establishing when everything needs to occur, from sending out an RFQ to the bidding process. No dates were voted on, but Willert suggested that the RFQ be completed by March 8, with the board potentially awarding a contract around April 26.

“We talked a lot about ‘what-ifs’ here tonight, but the fact of the matter is we don’t have the answers, and we have to rely on our good analysis, decision-making process to get to where we know and plan for the future for these two facilities. It’s that simple,” board member Wes Tschetter said.

The board members agreed to finalize the RFQ at their March 8 meeting.

To watch the meeting, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYZXMixssFM.

Contact Matthew Rhodes at [email protected]

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