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Community-Minded Renovations Increase Facility Usability

Nestled along the east bank of Lake Waubesa just south of Madison, the Village of McFarland has experienced steady population growth over the past several decades. This influx of new residents found the local school district slowly outgrowing their current facilities. With the last major renovations at the high school having occurred more than twenty years ago, the district was dealing with inadequate learning spaces and ongoing maintenance issues. In 2016, a $65 million bond referendum was passed by the community, enabling the district to move forward with renovations and additions across all four of their facilities.

Working in conjunction with Plunkett Raysich Architects, the Snyder & Associates engineering and planning team provided invaluable site development services for this multi-year project, as well as providing extensive sports field design plans. All projects were designed to accommodate the ongoing community growth and match the district’s high-quality educational and community-based programming needs.

Overcoming Stormwater Issues, Access Constraints & Space Challenges

Each project site presented unique challenges to the design team. At the middle and high school locations, this included dealing with stringent stormwater management requirements and managing the replacement of existing undersized storm sewer systems within public rights-of-way. As a result, seven bioretention basins were incorporated into the design to address the requirements for rate control, water quality, and infiltration. Also at these two school locations, site access and space challenges were addressed using several retaining walls to terrace steep slopes, in addition to relocating the baseball and practice fields.

Coordinating the completion of the building additions without disruptions to school schedules over a multi-year period required careful planning and foresight. This also involved balancing everyday pedestrian and vehicle traffic around a busy construction schedule. Our team also provided land survey services, construction administration, observation, and staking, and water quality and hydrologic modeling.

Modern Sports Venues Feature Top-of-the-Line Amenities

Renovation plans included improvements to the district’s sports venues. The McFarland High School stadium had the natural turf field replaced with a synthetic turf field, while the running track around the field was reconstructed and shifted slightly to allow space for the school building expansion. Synthetic turf withstands frequent use better than natural grass, which is important as the football field also accommodates other athletic school functions. A key component of the athletic field design is a rock and drain tile subbase that promotes better drainage during heavy rain events.

To make room for the high school expansion, the existing baseball field and outfield practice areas had to be removed. These areas are also used for physical education classes, band, football, and soccer practice. A sizeable green space was left intact behind the school for classes and extracurricular use, while a new Baseball Field Complex was relocated a short distance from the school complex. The new complex includes varsity and junior varsity fields, each enclosed with fencing and include foul ball poles, upgraded dugouts, and a new scoreboard. The varsity field has a synthetic turf infield and natural turf outfield with a rock and drain tile subbase. The junior varsity diamond features a dirt infield with a natural turf outfield.

Building & Facility Upgrades Enhance Learning Options

At the elementary school level, improvements began with the demolition of the McFarland Primary School and additions and renovations to the neighboring Conrad Elvehjem Early Learning Center. Now renamed the Conrad Elvehjem Primary School, these improvements brought Kindergarten through second-grade students and staff together in one building with improved learning spaces.

The Waubesa Intermediate School benefited from new classrooms, a cafeteria, a larger library, and special service space for occupational, physical, and speech therapy sessions. A new roof, windows, and doors, as well as extensive maintenance work to the plumbing, heating, and cooling systems, were also performed. New wiring was installed throughout the building to meet the school’s growing technology needs.

Located adjacent to the high school, Indian Mound Middle School was the beneficiary of a new two-story classroom addition. Additionally, multiple classrooms were renovated and the gymnasium was expanded.

The most extensive renovations took place at McFarland High School where a new Performing Arts Center and swimming pool highlighted the improvements. The former swimming pool and auditorium were constructed in 1978 and no longer met the district’s needs. The swimming pool addition features a 10-lane pool, additional spectator bleachers, expanded locker rooms, and improved accessibility. The old pool area was converted into a fitness center and weight room.

The new Performing Arts Center features expanded patron seating to 841-seats with improved accessibility, enhanced lighting and sound system, a larger stage, and a full fly loft. Located on the backside of the school, the Performing Arts Center and new pool benefited from the addition of an 81-stall parking lot for staff and building guests. This access point further developed to include a drop-off area, creating a new entrance for the additions. Many of these new spaces incorporated into the renovations were designed not only for school use but also for other community activities after hours.

A student resource center and additional classroom spaces were also added to the high school. A second story was constructed above the existing district office and the technology education area was renovated to better suit department needs. The majority of the district improvements were completed in time to reopen for the 2020-21 school year.