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Athletic fields big part in school plan

This is a preliminary site plan for the new Alexandria high school. The school board is scheduled to consider final plans and budget on May 21. Provided by Jay Pomeroy, Anderson Johnson Associates.

Momentum is building as plans are being finalized for the new high school in Alexandria.

On Monday, the Alexandria School Board heard a brief update on the status of the planning phase and what to expect in the weeks ahead.

The school board is scheduled to:

• Review the high school's design and development plans and cost estimate during a special board meeting Tuesday, May 1 at 6:30 p.m.

• Approve the final design and development plans and budget on Monday, May 21 during the regular school board meeting at 7 p.m.

• Open and award bids to contractors during a special board meeting on Tuesday, May 29 at 6:30 p.m.; and

• Plan for groundbreaking to take place on June 11 or 18.

All of the plans for the high school are preliminary for now.


During Monday's school board meeting, Jay Pomeroy of Anderson Johnson Associates provided an overview of what will be included at the new high school site - located at the corner of 50th Avenue East and Pioneer Road on the south side of Alexandria.

The high school building will be located on the northwest corner of the property. The remainder of the 167-acre property will include green space, along with parking lots, stormwater ponds and several athletic fields.

There are plans for two baseball fields, one baseball infield and four softball fields - all including roofed dugouts and batting cages, 12 tennis courts, six multi-use practice fields and football/soccer stadium.

The costs for the athletic fields are included in the $70.5 million new high school project cost.


Most notable during the presentation was plans for the new football and soccer stadium. The full-size football field will include seating for 3,500 spectators, concessions and restrooms building, a nine-lane International Broken Back Track, and space for several track and field events, including pole vault, long, triple jump and sandpits, high jump and shot put.

It was announced Monday night that the 90,000 square foot football/soccer stadium would likely include artificial turf.

A natural grass field was built into the initial project. However, a group of community members have expressed interest in funding the upgrade from natural grass to artificial turf.

Dave Hartmann, Alexandria Schools' activities director, told the school board, "We have received written or verbal commitments to fund the artificial turf so there will be no district money to go toward that. We've been able to generate the dollars and I don't have official written documentation yet, but I have verbal commitments and letters of intent have been sent and we'll get those back hopefully by the end of the week."

The artificial turf is expected to cost about $600,000 and will be paid through private donations.


The school board also heard an overview of mechanical design and energy options for the new high school.

Randy Christenson of Karges-Faulconbridge Engineers in St. Paul said the project's energy model has been updated throughout the design process.

Things like in-floor radiant heating and displacement ventilation have been determined as best energy use options for the facility.

"The construction cost estimates... those numbers will really tell us which strategies we're going to implement," Christenson said. "We looked at geothermal and natural ventilation, but both didn't yield a good payback because of the high first costs and the utility structure, so they've been left on the wayside."

Other sustainable energy options are also being considered - things like carbon monoxide sensors that limit ventilation when people aren't using a classroom, solar thermal systems for domestic hot water and LED lighting.


The total project cost is projected at $70.5 million. A $65 million building bond referendum was approved by 57 percent of voters last November. An additional $4 million that was raised through a private capital campaign and the $2 million sale of the Jefferson High School property will also be applied to the total project cost.

The new high school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014 to students in grades 9-12.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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