CROOKSTON HIGH SCHOOL HOLDS FIRST PUBLIC MEETING ON MULTI-USE FACILITY REFERENDUM

The Crookston Public School District held a public meeting on Wednesday night in the Crookston High School Auditorium about the multiuse Complex that is planned to begin construction over the 2022-23 School Year.

Superintendent Jeremy Olson presented the facility, explaining that the project was meant to be a major step to help the school move towards excellence, which included holding events at the school like home track meets and football games at the High School rather than at the University of Minnesota Crookston. He explained that originally, they planned to improve the football field and track that the school shared with UMC over time. But they learned from the School Finance Division that they are not allowed to improve any property that they do not own. Olson explained that they had tried to purchase the UMC Football Field from the University of Minnesota back in July of 2021, but the School’s offer was declined. He then explained that the school then decided to build a facility for their sports events on the school’s property with the Long-term Facility Maintenance (LTFM) Dollars they received from the State Funding Mechanisms. To access that funding stream and have control of a sports field they could maintain and improve, they had to own the land they would use. “We ended up taking a different route. We got a Community Committee together to outline the priorities of what we wanted in the project. That is what we’re presenting to taxpayers,” Superintendent Jeremy Olson explained.

Olson then revealed that the proposed location is on a property section northeast of the High School (next to the tennis courts) and went into some of the facility’s features. He revealed that the facility would have an Artificial Turf Field, an eight-lane track, a press box, a grandstand that can hold over 750 spectators, and concessions and bathrooms built in cooperation with the school’s construction trades (CT) class, which helps cut the cost of constructing that down from $614,000 to $200,000. “What we’ve done is in partnership with our architects and our CT class, the class would construct portions that they could because they can’t do plumbing or electrical as that requires a license to complete, for the bathroom and concessions stand area to bring down the construction cost of the facility. Which I think is a good thing for taxpayers,” Superintendent Olson explained. “But then also for school pride, like if you think about it, how great is it if you’re a high school student, you helped build this, then you’re 25-30 years old and coming to a game with your kid and you can say I helped build this and was a part of this project. So we just think that would be a great learning experience for kids and we also think it would good for taxpayers as it would lower the cost of the project as well.”

Olson revealed that the complex will also be in close proximity to the High School to enable physical education classes and additional groups such as the softball, football, soccer teams, and marching band to use the field and be close to the parking lots to make it easy for the public to reach the facility during events. Plus, the artificial turf will be better than natural grass, as it will extend its usability for about 15 years during wet/snowy seasons and multiple uses in games and events if it is appropriately maintained.

Olson then went into a summary of the budget, explaining that the estimated costs for the project are $3,909,300 with a bond issue total of $3,915,000, with the artificial turf field’s construction costing $941,800, the track’s construction costing $709,500. The grandstand and press box’s installation costing $334,000, lighting/electrical work costing $625,000, and site work costing $734,000. The construction cost for the concessions stands and bathrooms would be $200,000, with other contingency costs equaling about $365,000. He explained that they were getting a lot of funding from the State due to the Ag2School Credit State Aid Tax Credit, which is paying about 36% of the project, cutting the amount the Ag Land and Farmers would have to cover down to only 15%. The remaining 49% is split so that commercial and industrial businesses cover about 18% of the project’s cost, and the final 31% being covered by resident taxes and other sources.

Olson then revealed the preliminary tax estimate information with the differing tax impacts of how much each person will have to pay in differing living conditions. The table for how much each homestead will pay and the estimated Change in Taxes from 2022-23 can be seen below.

Olson then opened the presentation to the public for any questions they had. He was first asked if there would be any issues with the builder’s union over the students working on the facility (as there had been some during the Hockey Arena’s construction). Olson revealed that there wouldn’t be as they would have the architects overseeing the student’s work and not letting the class do plumbing and electrical work. When asked about how long it would take to build the facility, he revealed that they planned to have the referendum for the facility passed in August and open bids for it in February 2023, with construction beginning by April or May. Though he noted that this is subject to change with lag times on materials, but if all goes according to plan with the bidding and construction process, they hope to hold the first event by September 2023. He revealed its timing due to the school not wanting to have the community have a large debt that they’d have to make up many years later while also having the facility be completed in a reasonable amount of time. He also revealed that the school is currently in the process of creating some fundraising processes for the facility. Fisher/Crookston farmer Craig LaPlante encourages the public to come to the meetings to learn more about the facility and how much they’re paying for its construction. “I think that there’s going to need to be more people to come out and listen to the information, just looking it up on a website, people don’t get the personal interactions, so they don’t quite understand the numbers,” said LaPlante. “How the State Funding is coming into play, why the Ag Land is getting a discount, but the homeowners in town and businesses prices are going up. So they’re going to need to come out and hear the information that’s being presented.”

This is the first of four public meetings the school is holding about the facility for the public to learn about the school’s plans and ask any questions they have about its construction. The next public meeting will be on Wednesday, June 15, in the Crookston High School Auditorium. If you have any questions about the facility’s construction and planning, you can contact Superintendent Jeremy Olson at 218-770-8717.