The Decorah School District is making some progress on finding a location for a new District bus barn.
At Monday’s Decorah School Board meeting, Superintendent Mike Haluska told Board members he recently met with Decorah City Manager Chad Bird regarding the possibility of the District purchasing land for the bus barn from the city.
Two possible locations include property behind the Ford dealership on Trout Run Rd. and in the Decorah Industrial Park, east of town.
“It’s looking more and more positive for the time being. I hope to know more tomorrow,” said Haluska.
Haluska said property in the industrial park runs almost $40,000 an acre and the District would need approximately five acres for the facility.
The superintendent told Decorah Newspapers Tuesday Board members would be meeting with the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors Monday to discuss the possibility of purchasing county owned land near Wellington Place.

City water
Haluska said during continued discussions with Emergent Architects, it has become evident it would be best to purchase a property with city water and sewer services.
Last month, the District was optimistic after learning it might be feasible to locate the barn outside the city limits provided it install an oil-water separator to trap any contaminants coming from the facility An oil-water separator is a device designed and installed to separate and retain petroleum based oil or grease, flammable wastes as well as sand and particles from normal wastes. It would permit normal sewage or liquid wastes to discharge into the drainage system – in this case, a leach field -- by gravity.
Since then, Haluska has learned the separated water would have to be held in a septic tank and regularly pumped and disposed of elsewhere. The closest plant that would take that type of runoff is in Cedar Rapids.
“This would be cost prohibitive. It would really be advantageous to build the barn in a place where there is city water and sewer,” said Haluska.

In December, the District formed a committee to continue the search for a location for a new Decorah School District bus barn.
The current bus barn lease with Bruening Rock Products of Decorah expires June 30, 2019. Under the three-year lease, the monthly rent was $3,850 for 2016-2017 and is $4,000 per month for 2017-2018 and 2018-2019.
The District has until the end of the school year in 2019, when the lease with Bruening will expire, to come up with an alternative. The committee includes Haluska, School Board member Krista Vanden Brink, Director of Transportation Jim Samuelson, Director of Buildings and Grounds Greg Schaller and bus driver Lyle Halverson.
The facility will need to house an office, wash bay, repair bay and space for inside parking. The District needs between five and six acres to accommodate the buses and bus barn building. The project is estimated to cost $750,000.

What’s next?
Haluska said he hopes to continue conversations with the city regarding possible locations for the bus barn.
“I did tell Chad there is clearly some urgency here, and the faster we can get moving on this the better,” he said.
Board Vice President Brian Petersburg asked if Haluska has had any conversations with Stephanie Fromm of Decorah Jobs, to which Haluska said he hadn’t. The Decorah Business Park is owned by Decorah Jobs, Decorah’s local economic development organization.
Petersburg encouraged Haluska to do so, to find out whether or not the bus barn would be a compatible fit for the industrial park.
He also asked Haluska if he had met with the county regarding a potential property in Freeport and Haluska said he had not, due to concerns from District bus drivers regarding potential factory traffic in that area.