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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Ely school building project will soon be going out for bids

Keith Vandervort
Posted 12/30/20

ELY – Following a final study session review of the schematic designs for the Ely school facility renovation project on Monday, Dec. 21, the school board held a special meeting to take a major …

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Ely school building project will soon be going out for bids

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ELY – Following a final study session review of the schematic designs for the Ely school facility renovation project on Monday, Dec. 21, the school board held a special meeting to take a major step in moving the $20 million project forward.
By unanimous approval, the building project moved to the design development phase where the architect and project general contractor will develop working plans and cost estimates. That will allow the district to solicit bids from construction firms and sign contracts to finally put shovels in the ground this spring.
“For the last few months we held multiple meetings with staff and faculty as far as putting everybody in their spots and tweaking areas to meet the needs of the district,” said Scott Sosalla, president and project manager of Architectural Resources Inc.
“Next we go to project design development and produce construction documents to go out for bids,” he said.
Some of the final details of the new construction area that will link the Washington and Memorial buildings involved designing and locating the elementary, high school, and district office areas.
The school’s media center will be located in the new building near the Washington building side. The new gymnasium will include storage areas on each side of the bleachers.
“We will now have some viewing areas into the new gymnasium from out in the commons area,” Sosalla said.
The seating area in the commons area has been established and new restrooms will be located on the Memorial side of the commons just north of the new kitchen area.
“And now we have the kitchen all on one level, which is much easier, and we don’t need to pay for a lift,” he said.
The architect also described the design of a ramp to access the Industrial Arts shop areas and classrooms.
“We were able to drop the level of this area down about two feet which will save us some substantial money in the budget,” Sosalla said.
In addition, the school’s heating plant boilers and equipment can be reused because of the lowering of the Industrial Arts areas. Overhead doors and a loading dock will be installed for the wood and metal shops.
“The boiler plant will be relocated to a former locker room area on the south end of the Memorial buildings with easier access to the loading areas,” he said.
“Our goal is to meet the February deadline to complete our drawings so we can get it out on the street (for bids) and to meet the deadline needs of the Safe Schools grant you have, and to create the elementary learning space so they are not coming across (campus) in the cold,” Sosalla said.
“We are looking at phasing the project with everything starting to happen this summer. We want to get a big chunk of the addition (out for bids) on the street as soon as possible so we can get the best (budget) numbers,” he said. “Then we will get into the remodeling of the existing buildings.”
The school district administration and facilities committee has been working with the architect in setting the priorities for the construction process.
“The Washington building is basically full. We are using every space that is there,” Sosalla said.
The Early Childhood Learning Center will be relocated to the existing Washington media center area.
The Memorial building will have some future “flex” spaces because of the new spaces in the addition.
As part of the renovations of the existing buildings, each classroom will have new doors, new windows, new ceilings, new lights. They will all be freshly painted.
“There isn’t a lot of reconfiguration in the Washington building, save for the early childhood area,” he added. “Two new bathrooms will be exclusive use for the early childhood area, so they will have their own contained area.”
All the existing bathrooms will be updated.
In the Memorial building, several areas will be available for future growth. The current cafeteria could be used as a community makers’ space. A dedicated special education area also will be housed in that building.
In the science classrooms, new cases will be installed, and workspaces will be added, according to Sosalla.
The former swimming pool area will be available for flexible growth.
“We are waiting on where we are (in the budget) to see how much we can put into that space,” he said. “We don’t know if we will take all the bleachers out and make that space bigger. We have to see how the dollars come out.”
Two public-accessible restrooms will be installed near the main entrance to the existing gymnasium.
“Two new state-of-the art locker rooms will be located on the same floor as the gymnasium in the former choir room area,” Sosalla said.
The concession area for indoor sport events will be relocated to the commons/kitchen area. All classrooms in the Memorial building will be renovated.
School board members will have an opportunity to review and approve the working plans and construction documents in January or February, prior to bid solicitation. Ground breaking for the project is scheduled for the spring.

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