From the reconstruction of Eastern Elementary School to consideration of a donor’s offer to keep Old Mission Peninsula School open to the sale of the former Long Lake Elementary School, Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) officials are juggling several plans and proposals for district-owned properties.
Eastern Elementary School
TCAPS is preparing to move ahead with a $10 million reconstruction of Eastern Elementary School next summer.
District board members Monday night approved a three-year contract with Cornwell Architects and Diekema Hamann Architecture & Engineering to provide architectural services for the project. The hiring marks the end of TCAPS’ more than decade-long relationship with Cornerstone Architects. TCAPS Executive Director of Finance & Operations Christine Thomas-Hill, who helped review bids and interview candidates, says the district decided to go in a new direction because of the “unique partnership” offered by Cornwell and Diekema Hamann.
“Cornwell has the local experience and history in Traverse City, and Diekema Hamann has extensive K-12 experience,” Thomas-Hill says. “They partnered together (to bid)…and that combination provides a lot of important perspectives for this project.”
Plans call for the demolition of existing buildings on the Eastern property at the end of the 2016-17 school year, followed by construction of the new facility. Thomas-Hill says the new building will be ready to accommodate 500-550 students in preschool through fifth grade by the start of the 2018-19 school year.
According to Eastern Principal Biz Ruskowski, TCAPS is in the process of “identifying a transition plan for where students will be housed during the 2017-18 school year.” She says the school hopes to inform parents of those plans in September. Any temporary facility site next year will offer busing, says Ruskowski, and the “transition will become part of the learning experience and will be incorporated into the classroom.”
Old Mission Peninsula School
Old Mission Peninsula School students were also set to relocate to the new Eastern building in 2018-19 – the timeframe Old Mission was scheduled to be shuttered – but TCAPS officials have stayed that decision in light of an $800,000 donor offer to keep the school open.
Board members Monday agreed to a request from the anonymous donor group to hold a joint meeting with the Peninsula Township board in the next few weeks to hear a presentation about the proposed gift. “The group is looking to create a sustainable solution that’s more than a couple years long,” Superintendent Paul Soma told board members. “There’s some talk around what that might mean in the big picture, but we’re waiting on a specific proposal. Until we get that, we’re not exactly sure how to respond.”
The meeting would be public and held in a big enough venue to host both boards, as well as residents. TCAPS proposed a meeting date of August 22, but will wait until after tonight’s (Tuesday’s) Peninsula Township board meeting to confirm trustees are willing to meet and can accommodate that date.
Former Long Lake Elementary School
TCAPS board members unanimously voted Monday to approve a purchase agreement for the former Long Lake Elementary School property. The building has been used as a “transition school site” since the construction of the new Long Lake school in 2011. However, the deteriorating facility requires a new roof and parking lot and is no longer in functioning condition. The property costs TCAPS approximately $40,000 annually in maintenance and utility costs.
TraverseCONNECT CEO Doug Luciani helped TCAPS evaluate the property and connect with potential interested buyers. After lengthy discussions, owner John Hoagland of Cherry Capital Foods made a $151,000 purchase offer for the 10.5-acre site. The parcel was valued at approximately $73,000 if it was vacant without a building, according to Thomas-Hill, and demolition costs for the facility were estimated at $200,000-$300,000.
Thomas-Hill said that although Long Lake Township still has a “process it has to go through” for rezoning the parcel for food distribution and/or commercial use, “they’re very excited about this possibility and very supportive” of the purchase agreement.
“The benefits to the district are obvious, but there’s also a benefit to the community in that it puts that property and that building back on the tax rolls,” said board member Gary Appel. “It probably creates employment, and the purchaser has a long and a successful history in this community. It seems to be a win-win.”
Thomas-Hill said the district did not receive any other purchase offers on the property.
Pictured: Old Mission Peninsula School