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Traffic and parking improvements begin at Roosevelt, DLMS

The middle school exterior project, duo school site project, and traffic turning lanes will mostly, if not completely be finished before school begins in the fall. Emily Driscoll / Tribune1 / 7
Construction began before school's end for the new staff parking lot at Roosevelt Elementary. Emily Driscoll / Tribune2 / 7
An aerial view of the new Detroit Lakes Middle School exterior wall design. (Graphic courtesy of Zerr-Berg Architects, Fargo)3 / 7
The current exterior wall of Detroit Lakes Middle School. Emily Driscoll / Tribune4 / 7
According to business manager Ryan Tangen, the tennis courts were long overdue for replacement. Emily Driscoll / Tribune5 / 7
The south parking lot was being used for both staff parking and bus pick-up. It will now be re-designed for parent drop off and parking. Emily Driscoll / Tribune6 / 7
Shortly after school gets out, parents line up to pick up students from Detroit Lakes Middle School at the current north side drop-off location. Emily Driscoll / Tribune7 / 7

It's been a thorn in the sides of school administrators, bus drivers, students and parents — the drop off/pick up area at the Roosevelt Elementary and Middle School area.

Construction has already begun for the $2.2 million facelift, or middle school site project, that was approved recently by the DL school board.

According to school district Business Manager Ryan Tangen, the current traffic flow structure was designed for the campus when it was a middle school only.

When Roosevelt was added to the campus, a steady increase in parent drop-offs has pushed the design beyond its limits.

"Separation of the bus and parent-student drop-off needed to be redesigned for student safety as they are currently crossing traffic," Tangen said.

He's not wrong. Escorts are hired by the school to safely direct students crossing traffic to reach their ride home.

Some of the projects are already underway, but there is much more to come this summer.

By this fall, new construction aims to create separate routes for all of the incoming traffic parties to ensure students are arriving safely to school.

The target date for completion is August 23. "We want the campus to be ready for fall activities and student arrival," Tangen said.

The Roosevelt Elementary and DLMS site project:

• The Roosevelt playground will be repainted and relocated to the south side of the building.

• The Roosevelt staff parking lot will be moved to the northwest corner where the old playground is currently located

• The north side of the building will be redesigned for bus drop off only

• The south side of the building will be redesigned for parent drop off and parking

• The tennis courts will be replaced/rebuilt

• The irrigation system will be replaced

The above changes are funded by a combination of abatement bonds ($2,207,574), long term facility maintenance revenue ($266,957), and district capital funds ($287,293).

"Abatement bonds can only be used for parking lots, while long term facility maintenance revenue can only be used to replace like-for-like projects. The tennis courts are an example of that," Tangen said.

The cost of landscaping and irrigation came to $277,050.

The Middle School Exterior Project:

The second major project happening this summer is the middle school exterior project.

The cost will be $2,784,195, funded entirely by long term facilities maintenance revenue, a pool of funds that is "limited on an annual basis, and the cost of the project will be recovered from this funding source over the next five years," Tangen said.

• The exterior of the middle school will be replaced with new panels.

• The new system will have an insulation factor in excess of R-30, compared to the current R-10, to reduce operational costs substantially (greater R-value=better insulation).

• The north entrance and northeast wall are being extended to preserve classrooms that currently suffer from recurring water damage without protection from the sidewalk above.

But that's not all. In addition to the two major projects, the City of Detroit Lakes will be adding turning lanes to the surrounding streets to better accommodate traffic flow.

"Each part of the project is dependant on the others," Tanged said.

The playground is being moved to the south side of the building, where it will be shielded better from the wind during cold winter months.

The space where the playground was will be replaced by a separate parking lot for Roosevelt Elementary staff.

According to Tangen, the new bus/parent drop-off design follows the same model that has been implemented at Rossman Elementary.

"Parent-student drop off needed to be redesigned for student safety as they are currently crossing traffic. With the buses having a dedicated drop off lane, the student will be able to step off the bus onto a sidewalk," Tangen said.

Overall, the projects are meant to improve traffic flow, student safety, parking lots and operational costs.

"The south parking and drive are in dire need of replacement. They are past life expectancy and the surface is breaking down," he said.

He added that the existing middle school employee parking lot will not be rebuilt but may have a new seal coat applied.

At a community engagement meeting on Tuesday May 15, Zerr Berg architect Brian Berg stressed the importance of improving insulation.

"If you reduce operational costs, logic says that you have more money for teacher salaries and materials," Berg said.

He is the brains behind the new exterior wall design and part of the design team hired by the school district currently planning improvements at other schools in the district, particularly the high school.

They seek to get a building bond referendum on the general election ballot on Nov. 6., 2018.