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School plan: Goodbye to Hammond?

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:46 PM

Spring Lake Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Furton asked Village Council on Monday night about the possibility of vacating Hammond Street, which runs north and south between Grandview Avenue and South Street, just east of the intermediate and middle schools.

Although the plans are purely preliminary, Furton said vacating the short street would offer the district “greater flexibility” if community members and the school board should decide that what they're calling Option C — building new 65,000-square-foot Holmes and Jeffers elementary schools — is the route to take for future district needs.

By vacating Hammond Street, the Holmes campus could accommodate a traffic loop for cars off River Street and bus access off Grandview Avenue.

A new Holmes could be built just south of the existing elementary school that currently fronts River Street and faces north. A new building could face west toward South Street.

The district will host a third community input session tonight at Crockery Township Hall. The school board is expected to make a decision on a leading proposal next Monday.

The other two options include expanding the elementary schools. Option A would add an additional 5,500 square feet and Option B another 30,000 square feet to each 50,000-square-foot building.

The costs are not known at this time, according to Furton.

The superintendent said that new buildings would provide the best long-term solution, with a life expectancy of 50 years, compared to 25 years for remodeling and adding on. Both Jeffers and Holmes are about 60 years old.

Furton noted that current elementary classrooms are 800 square feet. New school designs typically add another 150 square feet per room to accommodate larger children and larger class sizes.

“We do see an advantage to building new,” Furton said. “It’s a more expensive and more long-term option, but it clearly meets the needs of the district better. Right now, we’re seeing the trend toward Option C. But we’ll take the data and see which plan the community favors most strongly.”

Furton showed Village Council a sketch of what a site plan with a new Holmes could look like.

“This is very preliminary,” the superintendent cautioned. “We haven’t done a design plan. What this shows is how it could look.”

The drawing shows a new Holmes beginning in the existing playground and running south midway through the existing tennis courts. Furton said the district could build additional courts within the village to mitigate the loss.

Village Manager Chris Burns said the village would need to look at how much money it might lose in local street funds if the street is vacated.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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