The Minot Public School District will receive a $3.5 million grant from the State Land Trust to offset the cost of moving Erik Ramstad Middle School to higher ground, said Supt. Mark Vollmer on Wednesday.
Vollmer said the district had applied for the grant and received official word Wednesday.
The district plans to rebuild Ramstad, which was destroyed in last summer's flood, in a northwest location near 36th Avenue and 11th Street Northwest. Vollmer said the district is in the final stages of buying the land and architectural plans for the school are designed for that plot of land, which would make it difficult to change course at this point.
Andrea Johnson/MDN • Erik Ramstad Middle School, pictured here on Wednesday, was destroyed by last summer’s flood. It will likely be demolished this summer.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency had ruled that Ramstad did not need to be rebuilt in a new location because the old location doesn't fall within the 100-year flood plain. The school board decided to go ahead and rebuild the school in northwest Minot anyway and is appealing FEMA's decision. If FEMA does not reverse its decision, the district would be responsible for a larger share of the costs of rebuilding Ramstad, such as the cost of land and infrastructure at the new site.
The state grant will be of help in offsetting that cost, said Vollmer. FEMA will pay 90 percent of the agreed upon costs, the state will pay 7 percent and the district is responsible for 3 percent. Total flood damage to the district is estimated at more than $60 million. Final building costs won't be available until projects are under way, but could run higher because of higher costs for construction crews and materials.
Vollmer said he is also gathering information about a proposal to build a chemical storage facility within a quarter mile of the new Ramstad location. The Minot Planning Commission approved a request on Monday for a special use permit for the facility from Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations to build on the south side of 45th Street Northwest at Eighth Street. Randy Renfandt, buildings supervisor for the school district, was meeting Wednesday afternoon with Baker Hughes to get more information about the proposal, said Vollmer. Baker Hughes officials had assured the commission that safety precautions will be put in place that exceed the typical precautions. The city council must give final approval for the special use permit.
Vollmer said plans for the facility so close to a school could be a concern, but he is gathering information to present to the school board. The school board will meet today at 4:30 p.m. in the Minot Public Schools Administration Building.