Left without a defined idea of what to do with the vacant Whittier Elementary School, the Brainerd School District and Whittier Task Force announced Thursday that it will be accepting formal requests for proposals (RFP) as endorsed by the Brainerd School Board.
It’s been nearly four years since Whittier Elementary School closed its doors due to budgeting constraints and now it sits with no official use since housing students. Put to work to find a use was the Whittier Task Force, put together by the Brainerd School Board and Director of Business Services Steve Lund.
Comprised of community members DeAnn Barry, Kelly Bevans, Paul Bloom, Kevin Donnay, Sheila Haverkamp, Kathleen Hermerding, Kent Montgomery, Steve Northway, Mark Ostgarden, Krista Soukup and Jeff Torfin, the task force has worked diligently since January 2012 to come up with a possible idea and use for the vacant Whittier building.
Conducting a survey to community members this past summer, the results showed several inquiries of interest in the property.
According to the final RFP, “the property is one square block on the city of Brainerd and contains approximately 2.08 acres.
“...Approximately 11,000 square feet of utility and maintenance area and circulation space bring the total area of the building to approximately 27,000 square feet.”
Lund said that the goal in the RFP was to still maintain the same objectives that the district had laid out when the task force began researching possible options for the building. Those guidelines as seen in the RFP are:
• A use which is appropriate and conducive to the surrounding neighborhood and meets the needs of our community.
• A use that is financially sustainable, ensuring consistency in the use of the property and continued maintenance of its condition.
• A project time table that ensures the property will not remain vacant and jeopardize the integrity of its current condition.
“This (RFP) was designed to have a response that follows the same three guidelines that the district had laid before us,” said Lund.
In addition to the goals, responders must adhere to the nine qualifications laid out in the RFP and the process of submission.
Proposals will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. Feb. 1, 2013, with each proposal then becoming property of the school district upon submission.
The RFP states that negotiations with respondents will begin at the school district’s discretion with the district anticipating between Feb. 1 — March 1 of 2013 to be used for discussions on purchase and sale terms.