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2 sites chosen for proposed Baxter Elementary School

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And then there were two.

Two as in the number of sites proposed to host the new Baxter Elementary School, if approved by voters sometime in the near future. The Brainerd School Board Monday narrowed the list that started out with nine possible sites for a proposed elementary school. The school board proposed one primary site for the school to be built on property owned by the city of Baxter, east of Forestview Middle School. A secondary option to have the school built on property the school district already owns. Forestview is on the 12000 block of Knollwood Drive, just west of Highway 371 and south of Highway 210.

School officials looked at traffic control, pedestrian activity, water and sewer accessibility and land acquisition when determining properties of interest. A property of interest taken off the list Monday after the vote was property off Woida Road and Inglewood Drive, north of Highway 210, north of Baxter.

Steve Lund, Brainerd schools director of business services, said a concern the district has for the property it owns is it would have to cut down a third of the Forestview forest, which sits on 75 acres. However, Lund said with this property the district would not have to worry about any land or right-of-way acquisitions. Lund said the district will have to look at peak traffic times off Mountain Ash and Highland Scenic Road; look at having a controlled intersection, which could possibly be a roundabout; and look at widening Mountain Ash.

The secondary property, east of Forestview, is 38 acres and the district would have to purchase it from the city of Baxter. Lund said the district will have to look at putting a four-way stop on Jasperwood and Mapleton roads and decide on adding either curb and gutter or adding a ditch roadway. Lund said the site offers wider roads, has an "amazing intersection" for traffic and is on high ground.

Superintendent Laine Larson said reasons behind the administration recommending the Forestview property are: less road work, no land acquisitions and because there was conversation years ago during the referendum to build Forestview that there would be room on the property to build a future elementary school.

Board Chair Bob Nystrom said he wants board members to keep Forestview's forest in mind during future discussions on the property.

"Before Forestview we didn't have a forest and now we do," he said.

The school board also approved the architectural renderings for the new elementary school and repurposing of the existing Baxter Elementary School for $17,500.

According to earlier discussions by the board and administration, the new Baxter building would become a five-section school, meaning five sections for each grade. It would be 85,780 square feet in size. Estimated cost released this past fall, reported it would cost $24-26 million for the new school and would cost $9-10 million to renovate the existing school to serve as the Baxter Early Childhood Hub.

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