New Outdoor Playspaces at Montessori School of Duluth

October 10, 2015


Duluth, MN (October 15, 2015) — The greenspaces and parking lot at the Montessori School of Duluth, MN, have been completely redesigned with the help of a generous Enbridge Ecofootprint Grant. Fox 21 featured a story on the transformation, which you can view here!

MSD has had a longstanding goal to transform our property into a more natural environment and to, more than ever, bring the Montessori learning environment outside. A grant of nearly $80k from the Enbridge Ecofootprint Grant Program has made that goal a reality. When the work on this project is fulfilled, our school campus will be a great example of responsible land stewardship for the entire community. Rainwater will be reclaimed through rain barrels and rain gardens. A redesigned parking lot will provide easier drop-off and pick-up. A dramatically increased green area will provide room to run. The transformed grounds will also serve as a classroom for studying the natural sciences.

Our grant application targeted improving and protecting surface and groundwater quality in the Tischer Creek and 34th Avenue Creek watersheds. The grand was administered by the Minnesota Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils, Inc.

The production of the grant’s application was a true team effort by both the Building and Grounds committee and the support of the following professional services providers and their in-kind donations of the work outlined below:

  • Krech Ojard and Associates — Under the management of Nels Ojard and Kevin Ehrenreich, K&O was the project’s primary consultant and further supported the project’s construction estimate, stormwater treatment calculations, as well as the majority of the grant’s narrative.
  • Technical Design Services — Under the management of Troy Schlutz and Trish Stinnet contributed Landscape Architecture services as well as the production of the “Proposed Project Plan” in concert with K&O.
  • Northwestern Surveying & Engineering — Under the management of John Peterson, NWS completed the topographical survey of the site which was used as the base data for TDS and K&O to complete their designs.
  • Great Lakes Excavation — Under the management of Kevin Christianson, performed the earth work to ensure appropriate site drainage and install the new green areas.
  • Sinnot Blacktop — Installing the blacktop needed for the drive-through lane and reduced parking area.
  • Thibodeau, Johnson, and Feriancek, PLLP — Under the management of Matt Thibodeau, contributed an in-kind donation of $8,000 for zoning, permitting, and variance services.
  • Additionally, Don Ness and Anne Nephew, with support from Jim Nephew, were responsible for the creation of two wonderful letters of support to the project. And one of our newest parents, Jason Ellis, helped in the review of the grant and provided salient guidance.

This project is the first step in the long-term plan spearheaded by the Building and Grounds Committee. The next step will be to fundraise for outdoor classroom and play environments, to make MSD’s grounds a seamless extension of Montessori learning for our students. Watch for information on this next step in the renewing of our outdoor play and learning environments!