High hopes in Frazee
If all the stars align, and that’s a big “if,” Frazee will see a new wrestling building and community center built near the high school.
It will provide a space for Frazee High School’s powerhouse wrestling team, and also give Frazee residents access to an indoor walking track.
If the city decides to chip in and help fund the project, the building would also include exercise and weight-lifting equipment for the public.
“While there is a city side and a school side, the idea is to share (the building)” said Frazee-Vergas School Superintendent Terry Karger.
If the city isn’t ready to move ahead on the project the building can be built, and then expanded.
“It’s designed so that when the city is ready, we’ll be able to accommodate them,” Karger said.
The building would be located in the parking lot across the street from the main entrance to the high school. An old administration building there would be torn down to create room, and additional parking could be added at the back of the lot, Karger said.
The $4.3 million project would also include renovations at the high school, said Karger.
The old wrestling room in the center of the school will be turned into an open commons and concession area. “We’ve never had a commons — our kids hang out on benches in the hallways,” Karger said.
But it all leans heavily on a potential $2.8 million grant from a charitable foundation associated with the Scheel’s sporting goods chain in Fargo.
The foundation is capable of doing great things; it provided well over $1 million for the Detroit Mountain Recreation Area and has contributed to colleges in the Fargo-Moorhead area, including a $1 million donation for artificial turf at Minnesota State University Moorhead.
The Scheels Center will be NDSU’s new basketball arena, and Scheels also donated to the Offutt School of Business at Concordia College.
But Scheel’s has guidelines for funding K-12 education projects, and the Frazee-Vergas School District is considering those guidelines and expects to redraw its plans accordingly, Karger said.
A meeting between Scheel’s representatives and local officials will be held next week, Karger said.
“We went for a home run here and tried to see what we could get,” Karger said. “Now we have to work within their parameters.”
The Scheel’s foundation does not require a matching grant, but it does like to see local support, he said.
“We went for the ‘best case scenario’ at the start,” Karger said. “Now we need to look at what is feasible and what can be met through the foundation,” which has been working closely with the school district on the project, he said.
The school district has committed up to about $500,000 towards the project, depending on the size of any Scheel’s grant, and the city has been asked to contribute just over $1 million.
The city and Daggett Truck Line are supporting the grant application.
If money were available, the city would also like to see outdoor playground equipment and an ice rink at the site.
But the city is in wait-and-see mode and has not committed any funds towards the project at this point, Karger said.
If the project is found to be feasible, the city will take a closer look, and either way the school district will pay for its share over several fiscal years, he added.
“If this were to happen, it would take time,” he said. “We have to do the outdoor project before the indoor one, which can only be done over the summer, so it would be a multi-year project if everything were to fall into place.”
The school district has long opened its buildings to the community — residents can now walk for exercise in the hallways of the elementary school after school is out, for example — and that cooperation will continue even if the city opts out of the project, Karger said.
“We open our school up for just about everything right now,” he said. “That won’t change.”