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Bus barn blueprint

WORTHINGTON --In an effort to get more competitive quotes and to have a money-saving asset, District 518 is moving forward with constructing a new bus garage.

"So what the board really came down to was they felt it was advantageous to have an asset once it's paid for, and to encourage a more competitive environment for quoting of the transportation," District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard said. "The big thing, with the board choosing to build a bus garage, they felt like they were going to pay for it either through the transportation contract or they were going to pay for it on our own and see a lower cost for transportation."

The district awards two-year transportation contracts -- with an option for another two years -- so the school could have continued to pay for storage through those contracts each cycle.

"Typically, in this district, we have gone to a two-year contract with a two-year renewal, so four years. In order to pay for that substantial of an investment in that short of a time period and protect their company, they have charge so much more," Landgaard said. "If there are not good alternatives or options for them, such as a pre-existing facility for them to rent, it makes it extremely difficult for them to go out on a limb and provide a quote."

Another advantage is the location of the buses will not change with every new company.

"One time it might be downtown, the next time it might be on some edge of town and the next two years it might be on the other edge of town, depending on who gets the contract," Landgaard said. "It provides a more sense of stability to our transportation."

The school bought 7 acres of land by Stower Drive, where the bus barn will be constructed.

"The reason for Stower Drive is it's a piece of property that was available by the city," Landgaard said. "It was a piece of property that we felt was reasonably priced that would allow us to do what we need to accomplish. The other part is the road system is set up to handle that amount of traffic. It's busy, but it's not to the point where it will be a dangerous situation to the transportation."

Landgaard explained there were other options for sites, but within the time frame of when the school wants this built, Stower Drive made the most sense.

"At this point, we're looking probably at October (for completion)," said Director of Management Services Dave Skog. "Obviously, the sooner the better. Realistically, that's where we're looking right now."

The new garage will have multiple uses, including keeping the vehicles out of the elements.

"The buses are ready and shouldn't have to deal with battery issues and the cold," Skog said. "It gives us an opportunity to incorporate some kind of a wash bay so our buses look nice. They represent the district. We obviously want them to not be going on trips covered with road dirt and everything else.

"We're just hoping for an upgrade look-wise and convenience," he added. "They will have the capability of doing their own mechanic work if they need to and keeping the buses clean."

The building, which is still in the planning stages, will be approximately 110 feet by 290 feet.

"It should house, outside of the mechanics area and the wash bay ... house 31 buses. You could pull them into the mechanics bay and probably get 34 buses inside," Skog said. "If our enrollment continues to increase and we have to add routes, we have the ability to expand. They always have to have spares and buses for activities. They need somewhere between 28 and 30 buses at times just to cover all the needs."

The total cost of the building has not yet been determined since the bid for construction has yet to be filled. However, Landgaard estimates it will be somewhere between $1.8 and $1.9 million when it's completed.

"It actually would be general fund dollars," Landgaard said. "There is some money set aside for capital projects, but most of it will come out of the general fund. The district has the dollars that they can afford to pay for it at this point. There will be no tax impact."

"There is no levees or bonding," Skog added. "I don't think we would have gone there if that's the way we would have had to do financing."

The savings on the transportation contracts will pay for the garage in approximately 20 years.

"The long-term projection of savings on this is somewhere potentially around the 20-year mark, which most buildings are," Landgaard said. "Hopefully what we're saving on the contract will be paid for in that time frame."

Landgaard is hoping the permanent location will allow companies to have improved communication.

"Part of it is, hopefully, is it will help meet some of the expectations that our parents have," he said. "There will be a primary office and a primary place of contact, and as long as they staff it based upon what we believe are the expectations, there should be somebody there -- not only to take calls, but return calls."

Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.