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Park Rapids School Board reviews plans for new Century pickup loop

The design development submission also included a new staff and visitor parking lot, playground and stormwater drainage facilities.

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ICS project engineers Justin Maaninga and Austin May reminded the Park Rapids School Board on Sept. 19, 2022 of this pre-referendum concept design for the bond-funded Century School site improvements, including a new staff and visitor parking lot, a parent pickup and drop-off lane and a playground to the northwest and southwest of the school.
Contributed / Park Rapids Area Schools
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The Park Rapids School Board on Sept. 19 approved a design development submission for the site improvements planned at Century School.

The plans include a new staff and visitor parking area, pickup and drop-off loop on the northwest side of the school, a new playground to the southwest and stormwater drainage facilities to the north.

According to Justin Maaninga, a senior project manager with ICS, the new parking area will include 130 parking stalls, six of them handicap accessible, and the parent pickup and drop-off loop can stack up to 17 vehicles.

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The design development submission approved by the Park Rapids School board on Sept. 19, 2022 features two-way entry and exit from both ends of the parking lot and a one-way drop-off and pickup corridor along the northwest side of Century School.
Contributed / Park Rapids Area Schools

The plan shows two driveways approaching the loop from Monico Lane, at the northwest and northeast corner of the parking and pickup/drop-off area. These driveways are both two-way as far as the entrances to the parking lot, turning into a one-way for the pickup/drop-off loop.

Maaninga explained that parents dropping off their children will enter at the northwest driveway, drive south through the one-way traffic sign, and drop off their kids along a concrete sidewalk before exiting on Monico via left- and right-turn lanes at the northeast approach.

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The length of the queuing area “should minimize the amount of vehicles on Monico,” Maaninga said. “It’s not gonna eliminate them. They’re still going to be there, but it’s gonna reduce it a fair amount.”

Meanwhile, he said staff and visitors can access the parking lot from either entrance, adding that curbs will be mountable to allow trucks to plow snow over them into the surrounding green space.

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Plan review also showed an existing infiltration basin that will have to be expanded per city ordinance. Maaninga pointed out a stormwater culvert under the northeast driveway as part of this expansion.The plans also showed a playground area that will be graded at Century’s southeast corner, cutting across the fire lane that currently circles the school. “We’ll be grading this area (and) putting in ADA compliant sidewalks, so we have adequate access to the playground area,” Maaninga said, noting that playground equipment design will be handled separately.

Finally, Maaninga and May pointed out where lighting and signage will be placed throughout the site, including 14 25-foot lights on concrete pedestals and one-way signs.

Century Assistant Principal Steph Mercil stressed the importance of parents dropping off their students at the curb. She said it’s a safety concern when parents park on both sides of the drop-off lane, slowing traffic in the middle.

Maaninga said the drop-off loop is narrower than the one on the east side of the school, so it doesn’t encourage parents to stop on the left; also, that it’s long and straight compared to the east loop’s corner.

He said the next step after design development will be the process of preparing construction documents, which will show more detail. He anticipated this would be complete in December, brought to the board for approval in January 2023 and put out for bids to be opened in February, with construction scheduled from June to mid-August 2023.

Regarding cost estimates, Maaninga said that at the schematic design stage, the project came in at $1,018,000, but it has gone down about $8,000 to a little over $1.01 million.

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School board member Dennis Dodge made a motion to approve the design development submission and proceed to the construction documents phase. The motion passed unanimously.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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