Crookston School Board - Portion of Highland playground to get some needed attention

Mike Christopherson

    Areas in the southeast corner of the Highland School playground where the old tennis courts and basketball hoop sit have deteriorated to the point that they are a potential safety hazard and need to be addressed, Crookston School District Superintendent Jeremy Olson says.

    The Crookston School Board at a special meeting Wednesday unanimously approved a repair and improvement project involving new asphalt and a fence that’s projected to cost $25,891. (Board member Mike Theis was absent. An officer with the Minnesota State Patrol, he’s been in the Twin Cities assisting with the protests in the wake of the George Floyd killing.)

    Olson states in a packet for Wednesday’s meeting that he walked through the area of concern with Highland School Principal Chris Trostad and Buildings/Grounds and Transportation Coordinator Rick Niemela recently and they determined there are “very major items” that need to be addressed. Olson adds that Trostad met with his playground supervisors to get their thoughts as well.

    The old fencing and basketball hoops that are starting to get pushed up from the ground “look bad” but aren’t “fundamentally unsafe,” Olson states in his remarks. But old asphalt is also being pushed up and old tennis net polls that were previously cut off are also being pushed up. There are concrete and asphalt sections also sticking up and through the adjacent grassy area.

    In addition, as part of the project, Trostad is requesting that the merry-go-round be removed because they are widely considered to be dangerous and not recommended for school playgrounds. Olson notes there were “several injuries” on the merry-go-round during the school year that just wrapped up.

    Custodians on staff will remove the merry-go-round, as well as the concrete and asphalt pieces rising up in the grassy area.

    Niemela identified the scope of the project and crunched the numbers. The existing fencing around the tennis courts would be removed, along with the old basketball hoops. The existing tennis court area would also be overlaid or repaired. The fence along the sidewalk in would be extended and the current gate would be replaced.

    When the project is complete, Olson says, the repaired area will be connected to the main playground area, meaning that on days that are wet or there is melting snow, kids will be able to go back into the school without walking across potentially muddy grass and tracking it into the school.

    Two bid packages were disseminated and, in all, five bids were received. Agassiz Asphalt submitted the low bid of $17,800 for the asphalt-related work, and McGlynn Fence submitted the low bid of $8,091 for the other portion of the project.