MAPS board approves bid for school parking lot expansion

MARQUETTE — The Marquette Area Public Schools Board recently approved a contract with Oberstar Inc. to improve and expand the size of the parking lot at Superior Hills Elementary School, off M-553.

“This project has long been on the sinking fund list,” MAPS Superintendent Bill Saunders said. “As our … strategic planning committee met many years ago, all the parking lots were on the list to be redone. When we say redone, some of it’s just redoing the asphalt like the high school parking lot here that’s full of potholes. Other projects, like Superior Hills, did require a little bit of thought process into making that more parent-friendly.”

The board unanimously approved the nearly $294,000 bid from the Marquette-based contractor, the least expensive option out of three bidders. Saunders said the project was roughly $5,000 below initial estimates and the amount budgeted in the district’s sinking fund.

The work will include nearly doubling the number of spaces, from 92 to 170, according to project documents, and widening the lot’s ingress-egress drive from two lanes to three.

Saunders said the grade of the access drive has caused issues in the past, particularly during the winter due to icy road conditions.

“It doesn’t matter how much we sand or salt it … It’s got kind of a little sharp turn in it, as well, that makes it a little more difficult, so the plan … (is) to straighten that out as much as we possibly can,” he said.

Saunders said enrollment is increasing at the Superior Hills school, which itself is growing in size, as well, through the addition of seven classrooms paid for with a voter-approved bond.

Saunders said the school has struggled in the past with traffic congestion, and that the parking lot changes were made with that in mind.

“Right now that school — and I think for good purposes from a safety standpoint — ask parents to come in and pick up their students from classrooms,” he explained. “So really we’re not going to get any better traffic flow through there. But we can have more parking … to accommodate those parents that have to park, go in, grab their student and be able to leave.”

The parking lot work was put on hold earlier this year due to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality concerns that additional parking spaces could impact nearby property considered to be wetlands.

Though the issue was resolved, Saunders said the district initially sought bids for the work to be completed next year, which would have been less expensive. But he ultimately recommended the board approve a contract to complete the work before the start of school later this year.

“We knew with the DEQ situation we were going to get a late start on the year, (and) didn’t know if we were going to be able to get it done this summer,” he said. “I think … Oberstar’s bid came in very aggressive in order to get that project done this summer.”

The other proposals were from Associated Constructors LLC, out of Negaunee Township, which bid $342,000, and Smith Construction, of Marquette Township, which bid $365,000.

If the project were instead to be completed in 2018, the low bid would have been Associated Constructors with $277,000, followed by Oberstar at $280,500 and Smith Construction at $336,000.

In other business, the board also:

– Increased school lunch prices by 10 cents to meet federal guidelines. Elementary school lunches will now cost $2.40, with middle and high school prices at $2.90.

– Approved several revised school policies.

– Set board and committee meetings dates for the remainder of 2017.

Ryan Jarvi can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His email address is rjarvi@miningjournal .net.