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MACCRAY to spare portion of East Elementary in Raymond; fate of West Elementary in Maynard to be determined

MACCRAY School Board members approved preparing bid specifications for the demolition of elementary schools in Raymond and Maynard, but will save the gym, four classrooms and restrooms in Raymond. The Maynard facility can be spared the wrecking ball if the city and Chippewa County reach a deal before demolition bids are awarded, likely in June.

Aerial photo illustration of MACCRAY East Elementary site in Raymond, Minnesota
The MACCRAY School Board voted Jan. 10, 2022, to prepare bids for the demolition of the MACCRAY East Elementary in Raymond, with the exception of saving the gymnasium and four classrooms and bathrooms, shown in the yellow colored portion of the above photo illustration.
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CLARA CITY — The city of Raymond is prepared to save a portion of the MACCRAY East Elementary School there, but whether the MACCRAY West Elementary in Maynard will be spared the wrecking ball is yet to be known.

At their meeting on Jan. 10, MACCRAY School Board members voted unanimously to authorize ICS Consulting to prepare specifications and bids for the demolition of most of the East Elementary in Raymond, but to spare the gymnasium and four adjoining classrooms and restrooms.

At the same meeting, the board members voted to authorize the firm to prepare specifications and bids for the demolition of the MACCRAY West Elementary in Maynard, but with two opposed. Members Tate Mueller and Deb Brandt opposed the resolution.

The vote came after board members, and Superintendent Sherri Broderius, emphasized that the demolition of the MACCRAY West Elementary would not occur if the city of Maynard reaches an agreement with Chippewa County to utilize the building prior to the awarding of bids for demolition.

Dan Hiemenz, project manager with ICS Consulting, said he expected that the demolition bids would be awarded in June.

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The MACCRAY School District is currently in the midst of a $40.7 million project to develop a central campus in Clara City. Work is on schedule for its opening at the start of the upcoming school year. The project includes funding for the demolition of the East and West facilities, estimated at $500,000 for each.

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The MACCRAY School Board agreed Jan. 10, 2022, to move forward with drafting bid specifications for the demolition of the MACCRAY East Elementary School in Raymond, but agreed to spare the gymnasium and four adjoining classrooms and restrooms.
Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune file photo

The decision to spare a portion of the MACCRAY East facility came after representatives from the city of Raymond told school board members that the city was prepared to take over ownership and maintenance of the gymnasium and adjoining area. Mayor Ardell Tensen said the city is also interested in taking over the softball and baseball fields on the campus.

The mayor was joined by Ron and Shirley Schueler, representing the American Legion and Legion Auxiliary, along with Butch Steen of the Raymond Rockets, and Jessie Freese and Zachary Simons with the Raymond Harvest Festival. They told board members how important saving the facilities are for the community and events.

“We just want to make it work,” said Steen, who voiced the community’s interest in saving the gymnasium. “They do not create gyms like that one in Raymond.”

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The city of Maynard and Chippewa County will need to reach an agreement by sometime in June 2022 to utilize the MACCRAY West Elementary School or bids will be awarded for its demolition.
Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune file photo

Mayor Tensen and Superintendent Broderius have previously discussed the city’s interest in saving the gymnasium as well as eventually taking over the athletic fields. The superintendent said the resolution at this point would be limited to the agreement on sparing a portion of the building, but she and board members said they are open to eventually transferring all of the property.

Candice Jaenisch, of the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners, asked school board members to delay the resolution on the demolition of MACCRAY West. She told board members that the county is studying its facilities needs. The county instructed its consultants to consider the possible use of the MACCRAY West facility in Maynard as an option to help meet those needs.

The county faces the need to replace or undertake major repairs on its Family Service building. The facilities in Maynard are in good shape, she said.

“Might seem a stretch, but it could work. (It’s) a beautiful campus. Truly believe there is a use for that building,” said the county commissioner.

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The city of Maynard has offered to re-purpose the MACCRAY West facility for county use. The city estimates it would require about $4 million to do so. The proposal calls for a lease-to-own agreement with the intent that the county would own the building after 20 years.

Rough estimates for replacing the Chippewa County Family Service Center are in the range of $14 million. Leasing the building as part of that proposal could save the county as much as $10 million, Jaenisch pointed out.

MACCRAY School Board Chair Julie Alsum said the school wants to support the option of saving the building for city and county use. But she said the board could find itself in a position it did not want to be in if it did not start the engineering work for the possible demolition. The school would face greater costs if the demolition bids for the East and West facilities are not awarded at the same time. It’s very likely that one firm would be awarded the work due to the lower mobilization costs of doing both.

Alsum said the school board “can pull the plug” on the demolition process up until bids are awarded, and would certainly be willing to do so.

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoors reporter for the West Central Tribune.
He has been a reporter with the West Central Tribune since 1993.

Cherveny can be reached via email at tcherveny@wctrib.com or by phone at 320-214-4335.
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