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Larson Elementary Project Site Plan Approved

Planning Commission Scrutinizes Plan for Combined Elementary

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HARRISON – The Harrison Planning Commission had the opportunity last month to conduct a site plan review on the scheduled renovation and construction work to take place over the next year at Robert Larson Elementary in Harrison.

The work is to include correcting the failed open concept design in the original building, as was done in 2018 at the Harrison High School. That will require construction of walls and installation of the necessary electrical and plumbing infrastructure needed to support the new traditional classrooms, each with its own bathroom for students.

The project also calls for construction of an addition to the east side of the building which will house Hillside Elementary’s grade 3-5 students, as well as a new gymnasium and a school office large enough to house multiple administrator offices. This combining of buildings also will enable students K-12 to be on the same overarching campus, rather than being separated by a state highway.

Integrated Designs Inc. is again handling the project design work, and engineer Andrew Mansfield from IDI’s Marquette office presented the 15-page plan to the commissioners. Mansfield fielded a variety of questions, many of which focused on the proposed traffic flow. The new plan calls for a dedicated bus loop for drop-off and pick-up to on the north side of the building (Spruce Street) and expanded parking to the southeast. Adjacent family drop-off and pick-up will be done via an L-shaped driveway which enters from Fifth Street (across from the football field) and returns to Fifth Street south of the school. It was noted that the north lot would remain gateless, but there would be gates place on the south lot intersections.

Commissioners questioned how well parents would manage the idea of dropping their children off along the drop-off sidewalk rather than most of them choosing to slow the flow by insisting they drop off their charges directly “at the entrance” itself. And, of course, that led to anticipation of traffic flow problems at the 4-way stop at the intersection of Fifth and Spruce streets. Commissioners suggested and agreed that the city could look into placing signage limiting left turns there during the heavily congested drop-off and pick-up times, as well as making Fifth Street from M-61.

There also was question regarding the site’s drainage, as a substantial portion of the area where onsite water absorption would now be covered by structure and paving. Tracey Connelly, PC acting secretary, pointed out the city storm drain which had been installed on the athletic field side of Fifth Street which commissioners were assured could handle the anticipated runoff.

The engineer explained that because there are no floor drops in the plan, the entire structure would be on one level, and that accomplishing that would require 12,500 cubic yards of material to be trucked in. Mansfield also elaborated for the commissioners how various mechanical elements would be handled: electrical, topographical grade, lighting, etc.

After the requisite questions had been answered, verifying the site plan had met all the requirements, the plan was approved, with the adjustments regarding managing traffic flow.

The Harrison Planning Commission will meet next at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11 at Harrison City Hall, 2105 Sullivan Drive.

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