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Board approves bid for Tiger Stadium work

Farmington School Board members approved bids Monday for a divisive reconstruction project at Farmington High School’s Tiger Stadium, seemingly putting to rest any thought this year’s senior class will have the chance to graduate there.

Board members approved the project despite the fact the lower of the two bids they received came in $360,000 above the roughly $1 million proposed budget. Finance director Jane Houska said that even with the higher cost, savings on other projects the board has approved for this summer mean the district is $1.8 million ahead of its budget for all of the projects it has approved related to last November’s bond vote.

The district still has to approve bids for kindergarten additions at Meadowview and North Trail elementary schools.

“We have a very good cushion to get the rest of our projects done,” Houska said.

FHS parent Christy Jo Fogarty, a former Farmington City Council member, questioned the board’s decision to go ahead with a project with a cost so much higher than expected.

“I’m beginning to feel like perhaps we’re getting our heels dug in on this,” she said. “No matter what it costs, we’re going to fix it.”

Houska said it’s not unusual to see construction bids come in higher than expected. She said school districts across the metropolitan area have seen bids for projects come in up to 30 percent above projections this construction season.

Superintendent Jay Haugen said the high prices are a reflection of the amount of work school districts are doing this summer. In Rosemount, work was scheduled to start this week on construction of a new elementary school. That district has several other construction projects in the works tied to its own bond referendum last fall.

Board members asked questions Monday about why the district received only two bids for the project. Angela Otteson of Wold Architects and Engineers said eight construction companies attended a mandatory walk-through of the stadium before the bidding process and several of those followed up to say they would bid. There were more than two companies present in the lobby on the day bids were due, but some left without bidding. Otteson said one company chose not to bid because it could not get a quote from a company that could do the earthwork needed for the project despite reaching out to 20 companies.

Otteson said the district might get more bidders if it waited a year to do the project, but there’s no guarantee, and inflation would likely mean other costs would be higher.

“Next year is looking just as busy as this year is,” she said.

FHS students filled the room during a board meeting earlier this year to ask that construction be delayed until after graduation so they would have the opportunity to graduate outdoors in the stadium. Board members decided to start before graduation to allow as much time as possible to do the work while students are not in school.

FHS has had trouble with its stadium nearly from the time it was built. Because of problems with the soil, concrete slabs have shifted and cracked and a retaining wall has started to lean. To fix the problem, construction crews will have to remove four feet of soil, rebuild the foundation, install drain tile and replace the dirt and the concrete plazas.

Moving all that dirt means it would be impossible to complete a significant part of the project while students are present. Construction equipment will occupy much of the parking lot, which would limit parking and make getting in and out of the school difficult, principal Jason Berg said.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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