Plans for Red Cedar Revealed; Parents Want Bike Access and More Environmentally Sustainable Practices

Thursday, October 5, 2017, 9:37 am
By: 
Karessa Wheeler

Above: GMB architect Nate Bosch

Around 40 people attended the first community forum regarding the School District’s plan to renovate Red Cedar Elementary before building the first of five new elementary schools next year.

Superintendent Dori Leyko gave an overview of the $10 million project.

“We are here to share some exciting information and would like some feedback from you,” Leyko said.

Major changes include relocating the main office to give the staff full views of the parking lot and the main entrance to the school. Architects from GMB also created a new drop-off/pick-up loop that would allow cars to park along a winding curve leading to the main entrance, while allowing other cars access to the parking lot. Buses would pick off and drop off at the north end of the school.

Brian Reeve, Operations Maintenance Supervisor for the East Lansing School District, said another significant renovation is the replacement of all plumbing from the street into the building, including all sinks and fixtures.

“There will be new water lines throughout the building to remove anything that could have the possibility of traces of lead in it,” he said.

There will also be upgrades to the school kitchen, a new air conditioning system installed, upgraded heating systems and new barrier-free elements including wider doorways, Reeve said. Fire systems will be upgraded as well.

Work on Red Cedar is expected to begin in February 2018 and be completed in time for the beginning of the school year in September 2018. During the 2018-19 school year, the staff and students at Glencairn will be housed in Red Cedar while Glencairn is demolished and reconstructed. After Glencairn is complete, another school population will be moved into Red Cedar. It has not yet been determined if it will be Marble, Pinecrest or Whitehills for the 2019-20 year. They may also house a school for the 2020-21 population depending on how Donley reconstruction goes, Leyko said.

By fall of 2021, Red Cedar will house early childhood programming and up to seven elementary sections. There will be a second phase of reconstruction before then to upgrade flooring, furniture, cabinets and playground to make the building more useable for early education.

Several parents in attendance asked the designers to please consider students, staff and parents who would prefer to bike to school. Architect Nate Bosch said they were definitely planning to include bike racks in the final design, but were looking for suggestions as to the best placement of the racks.

Parent Thomas Baumann suggested the construction of separate bike racks for teachers and staff in addition to bike racks for children.

Erich Ditschman was disappointed that the plans didn’t already include some siting of bike racks or other transportation that isn’t car or bus. “We need to incorporate the flow of the bicycles into the plans and know where to put them so they are safe,” Ditschman said. “This is not far in the future. Kids will want to bike there this fall from Glencairn, and this should be addressed in this site plan.”

Residents of the surrounding Flower Pot neighborhood also wanted to make sure the District worked closely with the City to make sure the roads and sidewalks were improved leading up to the school.

Parent Ginger Ogilvie wants all the new schools to be equipped with a sanitizer that would let students use reusable lunch trays instead of disposable Styrofoam trays in the cafeterias. She said Red Cedar would need both a sanitizer and a vent for the sanitizer. “I would love to see that in all of the buildings,” she said.

Others suggested incorporating rain gardens, butterfly gardens and green roofs in the renovations.

Leyko said the administrative bond committee will review all the comments from the forum and incorporate them into the plans. They will then plan a second forum for community members to see revised plans which incorporate the suggestions and give further advice on the renovations. The date for that second forum has not yet been determined.