Several ideas were tossed around Thursday at Mississippi Horizons School on how the new middle school in Baxter should be designed.
Brainerd School District officials listened to various ideas during the two-hour session.
The district hosted the first of three community meetings to receive input from the public on the design of the new middle school. They heard from five residents who attended the meeting Thursday.
Brainerd Superintendent Jerry Walseth said the meeting went well. "Some of the things (that the public came up with) we never talked about. We need this feedback and want more public comment."
The district wants the community to use the new middle school.
"We want people to think out of the box," said Ruth Gmeinder, school board chair. "It's your tax dollars that are being spent and we want the school to be accessible to everyone in the community."
Brenda and Sid Johnson of Baxter suggested that the school could be used to host large groups for gatherings. The Johnsons attend Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Baxter and said there are three different services because of space.
"It would be nice if once a year we could all get together at one place," said Brenda Johnson. "Other community groups or service groups could also reserve the space."
Cheryal Lee Hills of Brainerd said the school could build relationships with St. Joseph's Medical Center and other organizations for space. For instance she said the four gymnasium courts could be used for people who need space for physical therapy.
Also suggested for the courts was that a schedule be made when activities, such as basketball and volleyball, are being played so people know when the courts would be open.
Julie Anderholm of Nisswa shared a few ideas. She said the storage units for furniture, such as bleachers should be more accessible to the community and be easy to set up and take down.
She also suggested a family changing room/restroom be available.
John Luce of Widseth, Smith and Nolting architecture and engineering firm thanked Anderholm for the idea.
Mary Whitlock of Brainerd asked how handicapped accessibility and said ramps are not the answer.
Residents suggested that school officials have more brainstorming sessions on security.
People can address design suggestions and comment to the district through Aug. 7.
To make comments call the district comment line at 828-5252 or go to the district's Web site at www.brainerd.k12.mn.us and visit the construction update link.
The next two design meetings will be 9-11 a.m. Saturday at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Baxter and from 7-9 p.m. Monday at the Nisswa Elementary Children's Library.
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