Published December 14 2008
Local view: Plans for eastern high school look good, but site is too smallThe plan is out for the Ordean site, as developed by Architectural Resources Inc., for the Duluth school district’s long-range facilities plan, or red plan. The focus of the design team seems to be an open-air atrium and new stadium (“Red plan calls for second stadium,” Dec. 1).
By: Brian Ronstrom , Duluth News Tribune
The plan is out for the Ordean site, as developed by Architectural Resources Inc., for the Duluth school district’s long-range facilities plan, or red plan. The focus of the design team seems to be an open-air atrium and new stadium (“Red plan calls for second stadium,” Dec. 1).
It’s obvious that a proposed high school would not fit within the present middle school site. The plans have parking lots stretching from 38th Avenue East past 40th Avenue East, with parking and sidewalks within the 40th Avenue East creek area. The creek, we neighbors were told at a recent meeting, was “off limits” to development.
The site is too small. Nowhere in the schematic design overview are addressed the concerns that we brought up about Johnson Controls’ proposal from last January. There are no traffic studies or environmental worksheet. There is a lack of concern for residents, and there is limited communication with other parties concerned.
Architectural Resources Inc. put together an impressive conceptual design with glossy photos that should give a good impression of the effects a massive new building would have on a small high school site. However, there are still no answers about why there is a need to condemn private property and replace existing fields.
In November 1999, we in Duluth had an opportunity to vote on a school district referendum. The focus was on athletic fields, including at Public Schools Stadium and Ordean Middle School. At Ordean, the focus was on baseball, soccer and multipurpose fields with a football/soccer stadium. The property tax increase in 1999 dollars on a home valued at $80,000 was $15 per year for 15 years.
We in Duluth will pay until 2014 on the same fields the red plan would eliminate. The Ordean stadium is to become a parking lot while the multipurpose and soccer fields are to be replaced with a new stadium.
The district has problems maintaining one stadium. Is there a need for another? Why destroy a beautiful middle school site with multiple-use facilities, only to match what already exists at Denfeld?
With this new plan, questions should be answered. Would this development infringe upon the safe area of nesting eagles? How would additional traffic affect existing problems (something a traffic study could address)? How would traffic issues at the site relate to the London Road Corridor Study? These are questions that would have been addressed if the district had completed an environmental impact statement.
My property in the 3800 block of East Superior Street may not be needed, yet my opinion is the same: Leave what works alone. I say improve Ordean Middle School as a middle school and do not forget other options as an alternate “Plan B” develops. The debt of $300-plus million created today, with pay-off beyond 20 years, must be questioned.
BRIAN RONSTROM lives in Duluth near Ordean Middle School.