A preliminary evaluation of the St. Croix Meadows Dog Track has found it to be very suitable for a new school.
The feasibility study was conducted by Hoffman LLC. Hoffman had for a secondary school location, but found that site to have a lack of land that could be developed.
Last week, the board had approved a referendum be brought to the public for purchase of the St. Croix Meadows Dog Track.
If the referendum passes, the board will offer $8.25 million for the location.
Mark Boehlke of Hoffman LLC was on hand to present the preliminary results of the feasibility study. He noted that "everything in this report is based off existing information."
The property is clearly large enough to handle the capacity and traffic that would come with a secondary school. Of the 126 acres on hand, the study estimates that 85-90 of those acres are usable.
Boehlke did point out that the site has some existing conditions that reduce the total land area that can be used, including steep wooded slopes on the east side, a pound in the southwest corner and some potential wetlands.
The dog track already has enough parking to handle the large flow of traffic associated with a secondary school, as Boehlke pointed out that he "calculated around 3,000 parking stalls at the site."
Boehlke also commented that the location is ideal. He noted that being that close to the city, and to still have "the infrastructure and road network to move in and out of the site presents a unique opportunity."
Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggenbraaten agreed, adding that "one of the advantages this site has as well is that it has a buffer zone between where a school would be located and the neighborhoods around that site."
She also noted that their are a lot of opportunities on that property to have outdoor learning sites, which would contribute toward the district's goal of teaching environmental sustainability.
The study found no major structural damage to the main building. It also noted that development costs associated with earthwork, gas, water, sewer and other utilities would be below average because the site was previously developed.
"Not only are there public utilities to the site, but there is existing infrastructure on the site," Boehlke said.
The report did identify some hurdles to the site. It found that the City of Hudson would have to rezone the property, since it is currently zoned for "general business."
Another hurdle would be costs associated with the demolition of some of the old buildings on site. Boehlke pointed out, however, that these issues are "not uncommon on most sites."
Also, with the district acquiring the property, the property would be tax exempt; it's currently a taxable property in Hudson.
Board of Education President Barbara Van Loenen commented "this particular property is possibly the only property in the area that met our criteria."
The criteria the board had set was that the property be in the city with access to utilities, that it was easily accessible, and that it would be big enough to handle a secondary school.
The preliminary feasibility study did not address specific costs associated with the location, nor did it assess specific repairs or remodeling needs for the main building on site.
Boehlke added that additional studies should be done to confirm their findings.
The district believes it needs a new secondary school because its middle and high school are very crowded.
The high school has a capacity of 1,680, this year its enrollment sits at 1,635. The middle school, meanwhile, is already over capacity, with a capacity of 1,125 and a total student body of 1,294.
Bowen-Eggenbraaten had commented before the presentation that the district had a "very significant growth of 53 students at the middle school."
Enrollment at the middle school increased 4 percent over last year.
If the referendum is approved, property taxes on a $200,000 home in Hudson would go up between $10 and $20 annually for either 10 or 20 years.
The Board of Education will set a date for the referendum to purchase the St. Croix Meadows Dog Track at its next meeting on Nov. 8. The referendum will take place either in February or April.
Other Board of Education news
- Recognized the Hudson Area Backpack Program for its outstanding success.
- Recognized Hudson teacher Veronica Ellingson for receiving the NEA Foundation Award.
- Recognized Hudson High School gym teacher Craig Jilek for being inducted into the UW-Eau Claire Athletic Hall of Fame.
- Heard the district's 2011-12 SMART Goals.
- Approved revisal of policy #5136, for student use of electronic communication devices.
- Heard an update from Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggenbraaten on the 2011-12 district enrollment.
- Approved payment of expenditure's totalling $1,890,390.19.