By Chad Koenen
A public hearing concerning the potential closure of a portion of School Ave. in Henning was ended before it ever really began last week.
Due to a lack of a quorum, the Henning City Council could not formally open a special hearing that was scheduled for August 29 at the Henning School. The meeting was aimed at gaining public input or feedback about closing part of School Ave. in the event the November 8, 2022 Henning School referendum is approved by voters.
Only Henning Mayor Darren Wiese attended the meeting, while city council members Tammy Fosse, Jim Haberer, Scott Hart and Wes Johnson did not attend the meeting.
In addition to Wiese, Henning School Superintendent Melissa Sparks, Henning School Board member Kim Haugen and City of Henning staff members Jenna Kovarik, Ted Strand and Mike Helle attended the hearing at the school.
Though a public hearing did not take place, a representative from ICS informed those in attendance that the current plan is to construct a new industrial arts area on what is now School Ave., near the current administration parking. The plan was to leave the playground in the back of the school and add an additional parking lot near the playground with a new formal entrance.
Sparks said the new plan also includes designated bus pick up and student pick up areas, which are separated and could be more safe for students. She said the idea of not having the playground in the Hollow area came from a community input meeting in which several concerns were raised by community members. They are also not proposing flipping the high school and elementary classrooms as once discussed by the school board as well.
“By doing this we keep the playground where it is and we keep the classrooms where they are in the building,” she said.
From the city’s perspective, Strand said there is a water main adjacent to the area in question, but engineers have addressed the issue. He said other than potentially closing a portion of the street, from 2nd St. to the water treatment plant, there were no real impacts that would adversely affect the city and staff.
Since no quorum was present, Wiese said the city would need to discuss the potential closure of a portion of School Ave. at its next meeting on Monday, Sept. 12 at 5:30 p.m.