BAXTER-The new Baxter Elementary School factored heavily into discussions during the meeting Tuesday, April 15, in Baxter City Hall.
Council members voted on a bevy of resolutions that set the stage for the initiative. Here's a rundown of two major points of development.
Baxter Elementary property
The council passed a number of resolutions pertaining to the establishment of the new Baxter Elementary School, at the confluence of Jasperwood, Knollwood and Mapleton streets just south of Forestview Middle School. The design includes modifications to the entrance of Forestview Middle School on Knollwood Drive, not far from the new school's proposed site.
The resolution included rezoning, replatting, vacation of easements, and conditional use permits pertaining to the subject properties and adjoining Jasperwood Drive-all of it, in concise terms, to transform the property and road in a way that's conducive to the new school, school functions and anticipated traffic influx. Forestview Middle School, just north of the intended property, already accounts for a substantial surge in traffic at pick-up and drop-off times of the day.
"It will allow a new Baxter Elementary school, it will allow a new right of way and extension of Jasperwood Drive through the subject property," Doty said of the initiative, which looks to establish the construction of a new Jasperwood extension and sell 40.7 acres of property for the construction of the 87,425 square foot school.
Much of the road construction involves the realignment of Jasperwood Drive with the new school, as well as the construction of two mini-roundabouts at the intersections of Mapleton Road and Knollwood Drive.
Council member Connie Lyscio said a resident contacted her with concerns for the student drop-off points-notably, she said the resident told her, with crossings at the mini-roundabouts where it's less safe in their estimation.
"I told them I'd bring his concerns," Lyscio said. "But I said that I can't imagine with all the time and effort put into it by knowledgeable people, that they would ever put a child in jeopardy, but I wanted to communicate that concern."
Doty said it was the intention that the mini-roundabouts would curb traffic flow. Nearby trails and crossings were the subject of traffic studies-as well as rulings by private, city and county engineers-and determined to be the safest points for student pedestrians.
"All of the parties involved looked at it with primary perspective of children safety," City Administrator Brad Chapulis said. "That is the result of that."
Mayor Darrel Olson noted roundabouts would slow traffic to 10 or 20 mph, versus children navigating a busy thoroughfare where traffic is traveling 40 to 50 mph.
Next up on the docket was a revision of the conditional use permit for Forestview Middle School-resolutions to instigate an initiative, Doty noted, where the entrance would be reconstructed for:
• A new parent drop-off/pick-up lane.
• A second parent-drop off/pick-up lane on the north side.
• A new access point to the north parking lot from Knollwood Drive.
• An expansion of the bus staging area to the current staging area on the south side of the school.
• Various traffic improvements to the adjacent Knollwood Drive to allow turn lane improvements.
Notably, Doty said there may be, according to traffic studies conducted by consultants, a need for the construction of two new left turning lands-one at the entrance and one at the drop-off/pick-up points.
"The configuration of Knollwood-will that allow the construction of left-hand turn lanes if they're needed?" council member Mark Cross asked Doty.
"You wouldn't be able to have a dedicated left-turn lane without widening to the east," said Public Works Director Trevor Walter, who noted construction of Knollwood as it's conceptualized entails turning it into a three-lane road at this point. "You either have to make a decision to do that now, or put it in later. You can't restripe it. You're really going from a three-lane concept to a four-lane."
Walter said consultants with the Brainerd School District communicated drivers would experience a wait time at pick-up points of about 10 minutes on the high end-a matter of perspective to the public, Walter noted, though professionals felt that didn't warrant the construction of a turn lane.
Council member Todd Holman said staffers have years of experience dealing with the stretch of roadway. That-coupled with traffic studies-didn't indicate a need for left turn lanes just yet.
Walter noted it was never in question-and included in the design-to include right turn lanes, while left turn lanes aren't considered as necessary for safe and expedient traffic through the area.
After discussion, the council voted unanimously to approve the plan, with the stated provision the school district would fund out of pocket and construct left turn lanes if it's determined they are needed after one year of use.