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Concept for Oltman includes canopied student drop-off zone

A concept drawing of the new Oltman Middle School includes a unique architectural feature: a canopied walkway.

The canopy, situated over the sidewalk in front of the school, was imagined as a way to ease congestion by urging parents to drop off students further from the front doors. Students would be shielded from the elements under the canopy.

It's unclear whether the canopy will become reality, said Mike Vogel, interim director of facilities and construction management. It might be cut from the project due to budget.

But he said the proposal would be aesthetically pleasing, as well as functional.

The land where a new Oltman Middle School will sit next year has been purchased, and excavation work is scheduled for late October.

Cottage Grove city officials have given feedback to South Washington County Schools, after a school district design team made preliminary color selections for the exterior of the proposed building. Civil engineers provided a detailed landscape plan for review by the Cottage Grove Planning Commission on July 25 and Cottage Grove City Council on Aug. 10.

The new school will have 80 more parking spaces than Lake or Cottage Grove middle schools, Vogel said. There is no residential street that can ease any parking burden on the site of the new school, but the ring road on campus could be widened to accommodate overflow parking, parallel style.

While the landscaping plan includes 400 trees, city ordinances call for 700. Vogel expected city officials to be OK with the exclusion of some number or shrubs, he said. "I don't know where we'd put them."

Neighbors seem concerned with lighting on the site and the potential for increased traffic at times, Vogel said.

There is no overhead lighting of athletic fields on the premises, and the lighted parking lot will go dark between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. daily.

District 833 plans to dig a well and build a pump station, for irrigation of athletic fields at Oltman.