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BRAINERD SCHOOL DISTRICT: District forges ahead with Baxter park partnership

The Brainerd School Board Facilities Committee recommended board approval Wednesday to renovate the tennis courts area at Baxter Elementary School, with costs shared equally between the district and city of Baxter.

The Baxter City Council approved the cost-sharing agreement a few months ago. 

The tennis courts are located on school district property but adjoin Oscar Kristofferson Park, which is part-owned by the district and the city of Baxter. 

The park, including the tennis courts, is used by Baxter Elementary students for recess and school activities. The courts also are used by Baxter residents. 

The courts are estimated to be about 25-30 years old and in disrepair, posing a safety concern for students, said Steve Lund, director of business services. 

The project will involve removing and replacing the existing two tennis courts and adding a third court that will be more of a multi-purpose sport court, with basketball hoops on both ends to create a full-size basketball court. The area will include a new hitting wall for tennis players. 

Total cost of the project is projected to be $95,250, which will be split equally between the district and city, or $47,625 each. Those costs include fencing, tennis nets and basketball equipment. About $17,650 in demolition costs and site preparation work will be done by city workers to save money on the project, said Lund. 

Construction is planned to begin by about May 15 and be completed by June 30. 

Lund said the city has discussed the possibility of a future title transfer of that property from the district to the city since it is part of the city park but it has no bearing on this project. The city has discussed other renovations and upgrades to the park.

Board member Tom Haglin said if a title transfer were to occur soon, he questioned whether the district should be investing $47,625 into the project and whether the district would receive compensation for the land. 

“It seems if we’re going to put a massive improvement into it and give it away later, it doesn’t seem like it would make a lot of sense,” said Haglin.

Lund said the district has to determine its continued use of the property since it is adjacent to the elementary school, but he doesn’t believe it’s a decision the district should rush into now.

Superintendent Steve Razidlo said the district wants that area, including the tennis courts, to be used by students and to keep the surfaces safe. He said even if the land were owned by Baxter, the district would still want to use the tennis courts. 

Board member Ruth Nelson said if the district in the future decided to expand Baxter School, it may need that space. Lund noted there is a empty lot next door owned by a private landowner.

“Before we do any type of title transfer, we need to know what our elementary needs are,” said Nelson. 

JODIE TWEED may be reached at or 855-5858.