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German Immersion’s new home ‘unearths’ some parking challenges

Posted on 11 December 2013 by robwas66

Dec2013_Feature_GermanImmer

When the Twin Cities German Immersion School (TCGIS) moved to its new location at 1031 Como Ave. and started excavating the soil under its planned parking lot, it ran into problems. The construction project had to be put on hold after elevated levels of metals were detected.

By JAN WILLMS

When the Twin Cities German Immersion School (TCGIS) moved to its new location at 1031 Como Ave. and started excavating the soil under its planned parking lot, it ran into problems.

Some soil was discovered with elevated levels of metals that were above levels determined as safe by the state.

“The original construction project for the entire school and parking lot were scheduled to be completed by this time,” said Assistant Director Jeff Horton, “but the issues with the soil composition in the area have further delayed the parking lot.”

The school has had to halt its efforts to create the new parking lot while creating a plan to deal with the unexpected environmental issues.

“Our school is very committed to following environmental best practices,” continued Horton. “This can be seen in everything from the green cleaning products we use to our recycling program and now to our parking lot.”

Horton said the school is working with the proper authorities to correct the soil problem.

“We do not have a final solution at this time but many parties are working hard on the issue,” he said.

TCGIS has applied to Ramsey County for a grant to help with the cleanup costs, which are estimated at more than $90,000.

“We don’t have a definitive answer for when the grant funds will be approved, and we are not allowed to do any parking lot work before the grants have been approved,” added Ann Jurewicz, the school’s director.

“Once the funds are approved, since it is December, we are now in the difficult position of having to hold off on the work due to cold weather and frozen ground,” she said. “The school is terribly sorry for any inconvenience.”

Horton said TCGIS has been seeking feedback from the Como community members, the school staff, parents of students, the city, the county and the construction project managers.

He said that in the short-term, staff will be leaving more open parking places on Van Slyke Ave. Teachers have been instructed to use parking spaces in the Presbyterian Church across the street, the streetcar Station and to spread out a bit more in the neighborhood so as not to negatively impact neighbors and allow them parking in front of their homes.

“We understand that home owners need some of those spaces, and we want to respect that need,” Horton said. “Our goal is to spread out the parking of our staff, which will not put too much pressure on any one area of home owners.”

On its website, the school administration claims it is also exploring putting in a temporary gravel parking lot where the future lot will be. This temporary measure would involve hauling away and properly disposing of any contaminate soil that has been excavated to date, removing existing storm water management equipment from under the future parking lot and installing a new storm water management system.

The school would fill in the existing excavation and put gravel on the site so it can be used temporarily for parking.

Ted Blank, district administrator for District 10 Como Community Council, said the district encourages the school to work with the neighbors to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.

Horton said that the school’s administration team will continue to monitor and evaluate this issue as well as seek Como Community feedback.

Horton affirmed that the school is committed to being a positive contributor to the Como community.

“We value their past, current and future input,” he said.


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