The United South Central School Board took nearly two hours last Tuesday discussing potential landscaping possibilities for the new school in Wells.
Architect Dan Goemann presented preliminary plans to the board regarding the landscaping focusing on the front entrances.
"We are proposing sod across the entire front of the building," Goemann says.
The board unanimously agreed, but had more of a discussion regarding two proposed "landscaping islands" filled with shrubs in front of the elementary and high school entrances.
The proposed island would be filled with rocks and have shrubs and a Japanese oriental tree in the middle.
"This will be the bigger of the two," Goemann says. "This area would be 50 feet long and have an 18-inch vertical concrete wall. The elementary school island would be a proposed 20 feet long."
Superintendent Jerry Jensen was not aware of how large the landscaping area would be. "I'm wondering if that large of a space is going to leave enough walking room for the students," Jensen asks. "Fifty feet is pretty substantial for having this landscape right in front of the school."
Goemann believes there would be no problem with the size.
However, the location of the elementary school entrance landscape "island" brought up concerns.
"If we decide to put shrubs or flowers there, we would constantly have to pay for maintenance issues," board member Jon Feist says. "If that proposed island is covered with concrete it would make snow removal easier and we wouldn't have to worry about kids falling in."
Kraus-Anderson Construction project manager Justin Webster agreed with Feist.
"Filling the proposed area with concrete would be less maintenance," he says. "You would never have to worry about additional costs."
The board decided to simply scratch the proposed landscaping "island" in front of the elementary school entrance and fill it with concrete.
The preliminary plan also included having three large shade Linden trees and six Maple trees in the front of the building.
Everyone on the board seemed to have their own opinion on what kind and how many trees they should have.
Board member Mike Schrader proposed possibly looking into getting two shorter end trees and having the middle trees be larger.
"It is important the tree closest to the high school entrance doesn't grow high enough to block the USC signage," he explains. "Or we could possibly take one tree out and have five trees."
Board member Dale Stevermer believes other types of trees would be better because Asian beetles seem to be attracted to Maple trees.
Goemann believes having the leaves on maple trees coming and going will lend shade as the suns angles change from summer to winter.
"I will look into other options in types of trees," Goemann told the board.
The board also discussed the placement of the playground and a 9,600 square foot paved hard surface area on the north edge of the school property.
"The paved area would serve as a basketball court, a kickball diamond, a four square space and any other activities," Goemann says.
Overall, adding the asphalt and aggregate needed, it would be a $34,000 project.
"The total landscaping budget is $75,000 and the trees, shrubs and other items total around $20,000-$25,000," Jensen says. "The additional $34,000 will be added to the landscaping budget so we do not have much more money to work with.
Jensen also says another budget will be used for other outside furnishings such as trash cans, benches, etc.
The playground equipment from the current school building would be moved outside the road circling the new school, Goemann says.
"It will not be a high traffic area," he says. "That skinny road would mainly be used for deliveries to the school."
The board will reevaluate the proposed changes at another date.
"I believe this is enough to get started with the landscaping right away," Jensen says. "We can always add certain aspects later on."