Site Plan Development:
Since the last project update, HSR Associates and the District Reps have had several meetings to discuss and finalize site plan details. One significant development during this time has been the decision to place a retention pond in the Southwest corner of the site to manage water runoff. The below site plan shows the location of the retention pond, which will generally hold anywhere from 6-10 feet of water. There will be a shallow perimeter all around the pond which prevents an immediate drop off. A small pipe will exit the pond and into the creek that runs along the South side of the District's 92 acres. The small pipe will regulate and slow down the water downstream. Point of Beginnings, the Civil Engineer who designed the site plan, noted that water flow downstream will be equal or less than existing water flow. In addition, the discharged water will also be cleaner since the retention pond will essentially serve as a filter, allowing sediments to settle from the water before being released from the pond.
The floor plan has not changed since the last update. HSR Associates has spent the past seven weeks laying out the electrical, plumbing and detailed bid documents for the entire facility. To support the District’s one-to-one computer initiative scheduled to commence when the new facility opens, HSR has included enough electrical outlets along the classroom walls to keep students' computers charged during class.
The exterior design has not changed since the update. However, we have received color renderings of the exterior.
The District increased the size of the parking lot in front of the building since the last update. Another double row of parking has been added to the West side of the parking lot to the base bid package. The parking lot will now hold just over 400 vehicles. The District made this change because it will be less expensive to add more parking at this time and to better accommodate parking for large events held in the gym or auditorium.
The District has also modified the front entrance area to the facility. The grass island in front of the main entrance has been removed to minimize maintenance. Benches, flag poles and other structures will be incorporated out in front of the main entrance area. The updated front entrance is below:
Energy Efficiency and Renewal Energy:
WPPI, the supplier of power to Independence Light & Power, has provided the District with an energy consultant at no charge to make recommendations on how to improve the design of the facility for energy efficiency. 12 recommendations have been made and most are being incorporated into the design. WPPI is offering financial incentives to make the recommended improvements. An example is increasing the R value of the insulation in various areas of the facility. A couple of members of the University of Northern Iowa's Center for Energy & Environmental Education are also reviewing the design and the WPPI consultant's recommendations for additional energy efficiency recommendations.
The Build for the Future Energy Committee is making progress on their analysis of a potential geothermal system. The District has made the decision to bid the facility with a hybrid HVAC system, which would mean geothermal, could be added in the future at any time. After the bids are received on the project, the District will know how much funding remains for inclusion of the geothermal system. In addition, the District will then be able to have geothermal test wells put in to determine the conductivity of the soil. This work will provide the District with the information they need to complete the geothermal payback analysis. The District is also exploring low interest financing options through the Iowa Energy Bank, which could assist in fronting the cost of installing a geothermal system. If the District concludes that geothermal is a good investment, a geothermal system will be designed and put out for bid approximately 6 weeks after the general contract is selected for the project. To ensure flexibility with moving forward with a geothermal system, the general bid documents will note that the hybrid HVAC system may be removed and replaced with a geothermal system during the first two months after the general contractor is selected.
The District and Energy Committee is also exploring the feasibility of installing a wind turbine and/or photovotaic solar panels for the project. The Iowa Energy Bank also provides low cost financing options for this type of renewal energy, provided the payback is sufficient to repay the low interest loans to install such systems. One of the goals of the District is to make sure all energy efficiency options and renewal energy sources are considered to reduce our utility expenses and carbon emissions.
FEMA Grant for Safe Room:
The District received great news approximately two weeks ago. FEMA has approved Phase 1 of the District’s application for the Safe Room grant. We are now entering Phase 2 of the application process. The District and HSR Associates are now working on the final checklist and process for obtaining final approval of the design by FEMA. Upon approval of Phase 2, the District would receive approximately $800,000 in funds from FEMA for the Safe Room in the new facility.
On Tuesday and Wednesday March 13th and 14th, Point of Beginnings had a survey crew on site to mark out various key locations, such as the corners of the building, the parking lot, the retention pond and the silt fence line. A silt fence was installed around the construction area on Wednesday (March 14th) or Thursday (March 15th).
The in-kind donors started working on the entrance roads on Thursday & Friday March 15th and 16th below are a couple of images of the entrances being installed.
|In-Kind Donors Installing Silt Fence|
HSR Associates will be presenting the bid documents to the School Board at the March 19th board meeting for final approval. Upon approval, HSR Associates will print documents for distribution. Bid letting is scheduled to commence March 26th. A meeting is tentatively scheduled for 4 PM on April 11th at West Elementary Commons for all potential bidders to ask questions about the bid documents. Bids are tentatively scheduled to be opened at 4 PM on April 26th at West Elementary Commons. After the general contractor is selected and the contract is signed, earthwork where the facility will be located and construction of the facility will commence shortly thereafter. We look forward to a public groundbreaking ceremony in the first part of May. The official date, time and details of the groundbreaking ceremony will be set in the near future.