Administrators recommend elevator for Duluth's Congdon Park schoolDuluth school district administrators will recommend that the School Board approve purchasing a limited-use elevator at Congdon Park Elementary with some of the school’s remaining renovation project money.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
Duluth school district administrators will recommend that the School Board approve purchasing a limited-use elevator at Congdon Park Elementary with some of the school’s remaining renovation project money.
The item is on a list of final options for the $15 million school — some that originally were in the project but pulled and some that were added to the wish list later — but there isn’t enough money for all of them. A retaining wall is one of the higher-priced and most controversial items at $200,000. It would allow for more recreation space, including space for skating rinks.
The elevator, at $32,000, would allow access to the gym within the secured area of the school, and without it, anyone with mobility issues can’t access the gym within the secured entrance.
A meeting is set for 4:30 p.m. Monday in the Historic Old Central High School boardroom to discuss how the remaining money should be spent, but a few people spoke at Tuesday’s board meeting.
Sandy Bacon said she was “shocked” that an elevator for handicapped accessibility could be on the same list as a retaining wall that would make space for a hockey rink.
Only in Minnesota, she said, would she have to ask board members to not choose hockey over safety.
“Safety and responsibility should be No. 1,” she said.
The Congdon Park Hockey Club and its three rinks and recreation building were displaced by the renovation and construction project at the school, and supporters of that and other users have hoped to get the space replaced.
Sue Van Oss said she was worried about equal access, noting the “crumbling” sidewalk and steps at the front of the school and small playground space.
“Did other schools have to compete for handicap access, for railings, for blacktop?” she asked.
The district has at most $350,000 to spend. Other parts of the project the money could go toward include a sand field and drainage for $100,000, a basketball hard surface for $50,000, a pyramid rope climber for $50,000, exterior masonry repair for $330,000, a sidewalk on 31st Avenue East for $29,400 and new front sidewalk stairs and railings for $59,800.
Plea for music
Several members of Denfeld High School’s Little Mob and Solid Gold Music groups and parents also addressed the board about preserving music in schools, after performing for them. Middle school music choices have been limited in recent years, and the sophomore zero hour is on the table as a possible cut for next year. That would mean specialty music classes that meet during that time wouldn’t be available to sophomores.
“We are blessed with the amount of talent in this city,” Denfeld student Megan Rudd said. “But I have seen a rapid decline in the amount of students registering and the amount of competency because they don’t have the opportunity to take lessons the way they did four years ago.”