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School board considers selling UU property; report says site isn't suitable for large school

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The Hudson School Board voted 5-0 to get appraisals of the two pieces of property the district owns on County UU near the Hudson Soccer Complex in order to consider whether the property should be sold and a new site sought for a secondary school or to hold onto the property.

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The vote was taken following a closed session to discuss the issue at last week’s Board of Education meeting.

The board also voted to table going forward with a feasibility study to bring public utilities to the site until they have made a decision on the UU property.

The vote came after a report by Mark Boehlke, senior land planner for Hoffman LLC, a planning, design and construction firm from Appleton about the suitability of the UU site.

Boehlke told the board there were a number of issues with the property that make construction of a large school there difficult.

Chief among them are the multiple elevations throughout the property, some as high as 30 percent. Boehkle said in his 30 years’ experience in building schools, he has never built one on a property like the UU site.

He explained that the property cannot simply be leveled or “bulldozed” to make it work. Grading land must adhere to county and township building restrictions. There are also water management issues that changing the topography of the site would impact. Law requires that no changes can be made to the elevation of land that borders other property so as not to affect existing drainage patterns.

Other problems Boehlke noted included:

--vegetation and wooded areas;

--shape of site with the two parcels separated from each other;

--topography of the site with significant elevation and slope differences;

--useable acreage has isolated areas with limited or no access; and

--located in a low density residential neighborhood.

Boehlke said the site also presented design challenges including:

--a multi-story, potentially 3-4 stories, school to accommodate the enrollment would potentially compromise the building design;

--restricts future development opportunities like adding on to the building;

--restricts athletic fields and parking;

--due to slopes access to the building may need to have stepped approach therefore added costs to meet ADA accessibility requirements;

--distances of on-site parking to the building up to one-half a mile;

--County UU and Crosby Road not designed for high levels of traffic; and

--would require substantial road improvements to accommodate increased traffic.

Boehlke went on to say that the site might run into some regulatory problems as well. These include the feasibility and expense of public or private water and sewer which would require the approval of either the city of Hudson or the town of Hudson. The east parcel would require a zoning special exception for a school, including a public approval process. And the aforementioned road and infrastructure changes would need to be approved. There could be no competition athletic/activity fields on the site as the town of Hudson does not allow large outdoor field lighting or sound systems.

Boehlke noted that all of these issues would mean “substantially higher” development costs for this property.

For more information about the site analysis, go to the district’s website at www.hudson.k12.wi.us. The school board is planning on bringing a referendum to address the need for new secondary school space before voters by fall 2014.

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Meg Heaton
Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
(715) 808-8604
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