Esko School Board moves forward with fitness center plan

The proposed fitness center would be a 4,460-square-foot addition to the varsity gym on the south side of the school building.

John Erickson, and architect for DSGW Architects, presents the latest design for the proposed fitness center to the Esko School Board on Monday, Oct. 10.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal
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ESKO — School board members approved the latest designs for a fitness center project during a meeting Monday, Oct 10.

John Erickson, an architect for DSGW Architects, presented the latest schematic designs and said they took into consideration feedback the board had given during previous meetings and workshops.

According to the designs, the fitness center would be located on the south side of the Esko Public Schools building, attached to the varsity gym.

Superintendent Aaron Fischer said the project was not only an update, but a safety precaution as the current fitness center is inside the building and does not have its own entrance. The community has access to the fitness center; the latest design would allow for a dedicated entrance, so members of the public would not have to walk through the school.

The board previously approved the fitness center project in August.


Erickson said there would be a 4,460-square-foot addition to the building and a 550-square-foot remodel inside. As of right now, there is no cost estimate on the project, but Fischer said expects there to be one as the designs are finalized and the architects work on budget estimates.

As the center will be open to the community an additional parking lot for eight cars would be included in front connecting it to the south parking lot.

The proposed design of the center was made out of metal panels, and colored blue and yellow for the district's colors, instead of brick. Erickson said it can be harder to match the brick to the current building.

John Erickson, and architect for DSGW Architects, presented a rendering of what the fitness center could look like in the Esko School District on Monday, Oct. 10, 2022.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal

Board Chair Jerry Frederick said he preferred the metal panels, as it looks like it would modernize the building as well as adding some color.

The architects will now work with user groups, including community members, district staff and coaches, as they look to finalize the designs and make any necessary tweaks.

The district also heard from Matt Berger, an Esko teacher, about his proposal to renovate the outdoor basketball courts.

The project would turn the outdoor courts into one basketball court, one pickleball court and one court for both.

Berger said the estimate of completing the project is roughly $90,000.


Thomson Township Board approves $10,000 donation to remodel basketball court

Berger had previously presented his plan to the Thomson Township Board of Supervisors, where he secured a pledge of $10,000 for the project.

In total Berger has secured $35,000 in pledged funds.

Michelle Carlson, Esko's Community Education director, presented the idea with Berger and said the space is always needed for activities in the district.

Carlson said the added space would allow for playing basketball in a non-structured environment and would have good social benefits for students.

Board member Leona Johnson said she was in favor of the project and hoped the district could figure out a way for it to get completed.

"I am behind you 100%, I hope there are ways to make this happen," she said.

While no action was taken, Frederick said the topic would be put on the agenda of the next facilities committee meeting.

The city of Carlton held a meeting to start the discussion on changes to the Carlton Ambulance Service and possibly increasing funding from the municipalities it serves.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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