SUTHERLIN — City of Sutherlin staff members presented information to the Sutherlin School District school board during Monday’s board work session about working together to create a recreational facility.

The work session covered the school district’s goals and gave the board an update on its facilities. No decisions were made during or immediately following the work session.

The school board has been considering a bond levy, but has not made a decision. Sutherlin School District Superintendent Terry Prestianni encouraged the board to move forward with community input and surveys in regards to what the community will support in determining if a bond levy will be sought.

If the school board votes to move forward with a bond on Oct. 21,, it will not have all details for the bond levy at that time. The final draft of the ballot is due Feb. 29, 2020.

Brian Prawitz has been the work session facilitator for the school district. He has presented the board with information on the cost to hire his marketing firm, BP Media, to conduct polling and marketing for a possible bond levy.

One of the questions that the school district is anticipating from voters is: What will happen to the property on Waite Street?

City officials were on hand to provide the board with an option for the nearly 30-acre property the school district has owned for about two decades.

Sutherlin City Manager Jerry Gillham and Community Development Director Brian Elliott announced the Sutherlin City Council is considering creating an urban renewal district.

“Not so coincidentally this will include the Waite Street property,” Gillham said. “There’s an opportunity here we shouldn’t ignore.”

City staff proposed developing the site into a recreation center for the community, with indoor and outdoor facilities and a pool. Prestianni called it a pie in the sky idea, but one that could greatly benefit the community.

Prestianni and school board chair JR Guthrie have met with city officials several times to discuss working together to benefit children in the community and developing the Waite Street property is one of those discussions.

“The question often is how do we occupy our kids in this city with things to do,” Prestianni said. He added the turf field at the high school is used constantly.

The site is within a mile from the high school, middle school, East Primary School and administrative offices. Elliott said the plan is to apply for Safe Routes to School funding to help put in a crosswalk with flashing lights and improve Red Rock Trail.

Prestianni pointed out to school board members that Seaside has a similar cooperation between the school district and city.

Sutherlin school board members have been meeting for monthly work sessions since July to discuss a long term facilities plan.

At the top of the school district’s priority lists are safety and security for all students, followed closely by replacing West Intermediate School.

The district, in conjunction with the city, has determined two sites for West Intermediate School: replacing the building at its current site, or moving it to the soccer fields near the Sutherlin School District administrative offices.

Other questions the district hopes to answer, prior to asking for money from taxpayers, include the cost of the project, the support of taxpayers, traffic issues, and what would happen to the current school building if a new intermediate school is built on Umatilla Street.

“If we choose to do this we need to have as many answers as we can,” Prestianni said.

Elliott pointed out if the school district chooses to construct a new building on Umatilla Street, the old building on 531 N. Comstock Ave. could be rezoned for residential housing and become a multi-family dwelling.

Prestianni presented safety updates needed at buildings throughout the district, which included intercoms, security cameras, rekeying buildings, fencing and lead testing at all schools and fire alarms at the high school and West Intermediate School.

Additional building priorities were roofing, siding, windows, parking lots, gym floor, replacing modular buildings and painting the interior and exterior of the schools, according to Sutherlin School District’s facilities committee.

The facilities committee will develop a five year planning schedule to the school board during the Oct. 21 meeting. Prestianni said those dates and costs would be the schedule if the district does not go for a bond levy, or if the measure doesn’t pass.

It is possible with community support those items identified as safety concerns could be included in a bond levy. However not all would qualify, because general obligation bonds may not be used for items considered routine maintenance such as the state mandatory radon testing and lead testing of all district buildings.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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