An artistic conception of the proposed new Gardner Justice Center was shown to planning commission at their Apr. 24 meeting. Submitted graphic

The USD #231 Educational Services Advisory Committee meeting on Apr. 25 recommended that the Board of Education should not create a dedicated committee to focus on GEYCP.  Staff photo by Rick Poppitz

Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
The Planning Commission held a public hearing and considered preliminary and final development plans for the Gardner Justice Center at their Apr. 24 meeting. The commission also considered a variety of text amendments to the Gardner Land Development Code.
Michelle Kriks, planner, gave the staff presentation on the Justice Center to be constructed on a 15 acre plot at the southwest corner of University Drive and Moonlight Road. The site is currently zoned CP-2 (Planned General Business District) and will remain CP-2.
Kriks said the plan is consistent with the Gardner Comprehensive Plan.
The property was annexed by the city in 2003, and zoning was changed that same year from A (Agricultural) and divided in a mix of zones for business and residential uses.
The building is to be constructed on five acres of the northeast portion of the 15 acre plot of city owned land.
“The remaining approximate 10 acres is vacant to the west of the site and this is because at this time the city does not have any plans on what will be the best use for the remainder of that site,” said Kriks.
She said when the city does decide what to do with the rest of the site, revised preliminary plans will be presented for public hearing and commission consideration.
The developers requested four deviations from the standards of the Land Development Code, all of which were supported by city staff.
The first deviation was for building setback requirement for civic buildings, requested because the unique use needs separate public and staff entrances.
The second requested deviation concerned building frontage type.  Per code, the prominent civic building type can either be a Terrace frontage design or

Neighborhood Yard frontage design
The applicant has requested deviation to use  Buffer Edge frontage design along Moonlight Road, stating that the request for this deviation is driven by the type of facility proposed, which has unique needs for safety and security for occupants and visitors alike.
The third requested said. GEYCP does not have a current budget nor business plan; $10,000 was borrowed from the general fund for start up costs.
“I would like to point out that a lot of people see what we’re doing as athletics only and that’s something we’re trying to get people to understand, is we’re passionate about the other side of things, as far as enrichment. Obviously in year one, those [athletics] are the big ticket items, but we’ve done so many things behind the scenes as far as enrichment goes, and things that nobody has seen,” said Duncanson.
At the Feb. 12 board of education meeting, Chapman made the recommendation for the district to look into creating a committee solely focused on GEYCP. He took time off work to attend this April 24 EASC committee meeting.
Chapman said that there was awesome potential in the program, but he believed that it needed a dedicated committee to take it where it needs to go.
“I don’t think having it stay under this committee, it would have the time, the focus that it needs to have to continue to grow,” Chapman said.
He believes a committee is needed for transparency, and that is why he made the recommendation that brought this item to EASC.
“I think it needs to have its own separate line, separate everything, as far as financial standpoint goes. The reality is, although this is a really positive amazing program, it almost tore our community in half. I think that by not giving that oversight and having community involvement, that we’re just continuing to not give it the miracle grow it needs to expand as quickly as we’d like to see it,” said Chapman.
Robin Strenz, school board member and EASC member, said her opinion was that GEYCP could stay with EASC for the time being.
“In year three, or two, if we see that it is getting too big for this committee, and they don’t feel like they’re not getting the support they need, then maybe we should look at it then,” said Strenz.
Tresa Boden, school board member and EASC member, said she could see both sides and had mixed feelings. She said she could see the need for transparency and community involvement but at the same time worried about getting too many involved.
“You start getting too many opinions in there and too many hands going and stuff gets torn apart too. I just feel like letting it out of this committee right now, I’m more siding with your side now,” Boden said, referring to Strenz’s comment to wait.
After discussion, Ben Boothe, director of secondary educational services, outlined three options for recommendation to the board.
Option 1 was to establish a special committee on a temporary basis. After a year it would be dissolved, and the board could opt to reinstate it year by year.
Option 2 was to establish a GEYCP committee on a permanent basis.
Option 3 was to make no change now, leaving GEYCP under the EASC committee.
After more discussion, Melissa NcIntire, coordinator of student support services made a motion to recommend Option 3, seconded by Erin Nelson, Trail Ridge teacher and the motion carried.