Dist. 84 board discusses school-city facility addition

Project could include public recreation center, auditorium

SLEEPY EYE — Sleepy Eye Public School Superintendent John Cselovszki the school board Wednesday that he recently visited with Sleepy Eye Mayor Wayne Pelzel regarding a city offer to the school district.

“The mayor said the city (economic development authority) was offered a (substantial) donation for a community recreation center with pickle-ball courts. The city feels there is a need for some type of recreation center to make us viable, retain people and attract new people,” Cselovski said.

“The mayor asked me if the school was interested in being a part of a joint venture of some sort. I said I’m pretty sure I can put something together and see what the board thinks of it,” he added.

Cselovszki said a fine arts center has been on his (facility) list since he came here 15 years ago.

“I talked to the school architect who put some things together at no cost. Adding a locker room and weight room for our new Sleepy United football team would be a good piece,” he added.

A concept floor plan posted in the board conference room included six new classrooms, community entrance, two playgrounds, multi-purpose recreation center, and auditorium surrounding a courtyard. The project would expand the existing 155,000 square foot school by 85,000 square feet.

Cselovszki said an agreement would include the City of Sleepy Eye helping maintain the recreation center, memberships and reservations to use it.

“It costs about $30 million with all the facilities. A recreation center costs about $8 million, auditorium (fine arts center) $12 million, locker rooms, weight room and multi-purpose rooms $7 million,” he said.

“This will be a slow walk. Turn over any rock we can to find available money. It’s certainly worth taking a look at. That’s a nice plan you put together,” said Sleepy Eye City Manager Bob Elston.

“There may be many options we aren’t even aware of yet,” Elston said. “We don’t have the capacity for new debt. If we can be a part of writing a grant or something like that because it’s a joint powers agreement, absolutely we would contribute whatever we can.”

Sleepy Eye Public Works Director Matt Hardin said USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development) grants may be available to help pay for the project.

Cselovski suggested doing an interest survey to tell the school board and city what people want in the project.

“It’s pretty exciting to me. I won’t do this unless we have school board and city council support plus professional survey results that it could be done,” he added.

Cselovszki said The (Minnesota) Ag2School Tax Credit could be used to reduce 80% of farm taxes on school bond payments for the project. He said similar projects were done in Redwood Falls and Litchfield.

“I’d love to see this happen. I think it would be a great opportunity. I favor doing a survey. I think it’ll be money well spent,” said board member Joleen Dittbenner.

Board members Casey Coulson and Brian Nelson said it would be important to find out how much grant money is available before surveying the public on what it wants the project to include.

Elston and Cselovszki said grant amounts could be built into the survey to determine what individuals would support in the project.

The board voiced support for Cselovszki to pursue the project.

“This project isn’t just good for the school. It’s good for the community,” said Coulson.


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