Five major summer facilities projects were outlined during Wednesday’s Napoleon Area City Schools Board of Education meeting, including studying ways to improve parking and traffic issues along Westmoreland Avenue.

Cory Niekamp, business manager for the district, reported the Clairmont Avenue project started May 4, which is approximately three weeks earlier than was planned, because the campus has been shut down. The project should be done by Aug. 1.

Hohenbrink Excavating in Findlay was awarded the bid for the project, which is part of a campus improvement plan agreement approved last year between the district and the City of Napoleon. The plan includes the district improving Clairmont Avenue between Briarheath Avenue and Westmoreland Avenue and then turning the road over to the city. In turn, the city will repay the district $150,000 over a three-year period.

A part of that campus improvement plan was also that the district would improve parking and traffic issues along Westmoreland Avenue.

The board approved an agreement for professional services with Mannik and Smith Group, Inc. for a parking lot improvements study. The agreement states the district has $700,000 budgeted to address the most crucial of the parking and traffic issues, but is seeking recommendations from an independent consultant as to how best apply the funds.

“... The plan is to spend the next two months with Mannik and Smith going over the various issues that we’re fighting and have them come up with a recommendation,” Niekamp explained. “Ultimately we want to add a parking lot, and so there’s a couple of options.”

According to the agreement, the district is considering expanding the parking lots at the elementary school and athletic field and adding pedestrian crosswalks to improve pedestrian safety. Other ideas considered for peak hours are to rework the drop-off and pick-up areas or reverse traffic flow to improve circulation. According to the scope of work for the study, if parking at the football stadium would be expanded, it would mean the elimination of the junior varsity softball diamond.

The third major summer project that is underway is a kickball/softball/baseball field behind the elementary school.

Niekamp said they removed the sod last week and brought in eight loads of stone. Approximately 20 more loads of stone will be brought in after the area dries out from recent rain, and it will then be leveled off and bases will be added. Niekamp added the nearby cross country course has been laid out and does not need to be modified due to the new field.

Superintendent Dr. Erik Belcher said the field behind the elementary school will be a full-size field which will used by the school, as well as the city, for games, and could also be used by the junior varsity softball team if the current diamond is eliminated. However, Belcher added the idea of expanding the parking at the football stadium is just one possibility and the district is looking to the study for the best recommendation.

Issues that need addressed include insufficient parking at the elementary school during special events; limited parking for athletic events such as football, baseball and soccer, which results in vehicles being parked in no parking zones along Westmoreland Avenue or in grassy areas at the student parking lot; no defined crosswalks on Westmoreland Avenue between the elementary school parking lot and the athletic facilities on the junior/senior high school campus; and student pick-up and drop-off issues with cars stacking up onto Westmoreland Avenue.

Niekamp added Mannik & Smith previously conducted a traffic study when the elementary school was opened, so it already has that information. This agreement is not to exceed $15,500, and the report is expected to be completed within four to five weeks.

Niekamp said the tentative timeline for work would be to develop drawings of the recommendation by the fall, with the actual construction done the summer of 2021.

The fourth project was based on a recommendation from the facility review committee regarding an annual landscaping project. Niekamp said this would include replacing the park benches by the tennis courts which were removed last summer, adding 31 trees on the junior/senior high school campus and adding park benches along Briarheath Drive.

The fifth project for this summer is the addition of an outside cafeteria patio, which is being funded through $16,350 in donations.

“The patio is laid out just north of the cafeteria today,” he said, adding the project will include the patio, landscaping and picnic tables.

E-mail comments to jenl@northwestsignal.net.

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