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tim narkiewicz visit

An expert looks at the Barn

Tim Narkiewicz sits on the board of directors of the National Barn Alliance and works at Trillium Dell Timberworks. With his background of historic barn preservation, Tim’s visit to the Maplenol Barn last week was full of information for those who were able to meet him. School board members and city councilmen were invited but did not attend. The local paper sent a photographer; her “barn tour” shots are located here.

John Norwood attended this barn visit and wrote a report below.

When I asked about principal architectural features of importance, he [Tim Narkiewicz] saw those as the Shawver truss system with improvements, the clay tiles (likely locally produced), the hay carriers [probably from Louden, in Fairfield, IA], the grain carrier, the ventilation shafts, [and] the virgin Douglas Fir boards, some 20-30 feet in length. He also noted cross-tie improvements to the Shawver design, reflective of the period…also the gambrel roof….

tim and the east wall

Tim’s big picture comment [was that] this barn is “straight out of the agricultural journals of the time” and reflects the latest scientific advancements of the time, including design practices for minimizing TB [tuberculosis] occurrences.

A recent City Council meeting could impact the Maplenol Barn

maplenol barn se corner exteriorThe West Des Moines School District recently made requests of the City for code waivers and financial assistance for the Valley High School expansion/renovation and the Maplenol Barn. This is part of its commitment to the Remain Plan. After much discussion, the West Des Moines City Council unanimously approved a proposal that I summarize here.

  1. The city will grant a parking waiver that will result in less than a dozen parking stalls being added, as well as resulting in money saved. (over $100,000)
  2. The storm water detention on the northeast corner of the property can be deferred until that parking lot receives major construction.
  3. The City Council approves of staged storm water detention changes to the southeast corner of the property, but does not approve of waiving any storm water detention in this area for the sake of residents living downstream along the Fairmeadows Creek.
  4. The City does not approve of committing funds to the District for storm water work. It suggested that income exists from the 1 cent sales tax as well as funds from savings that the above waivers will cause. ($100,000 – $300,000)

All of the above is conditioned upon the barn staying in place. The Council asked the School District to let the City know if the proposal is not acceptable before the District’s March 1st deadline. If the District wants to renegotiate, it is to “come back to the table,” at which time all City Code requirements go back to ground zero.

What can I do?

Citizens can thank the City Council. The statement it approved is favorable for the barn staying in place. Should the District want to negotiate new terms, all of its waivers, proposed and current, will go back to ground zero, which could cost the District a considerable amount of dollars.

Alumni care about the barn

Brandon graduated from Valley High School in 1996, and Kari graduated in 1998. Their four children attend the city’s public schools.

Brandon is a Graphic Designer. As a designer, musician and gardener, he is passionate about art, music and agriculture. As a parent and community activist, he hopes to create a vision for his community that includes creative and responsible resource management. Many people remember his first school board introduction about having six periods of p.e. his senior year.

Kari is a Child-care provider and active volunteer at Western Hills Elementary and Stilwell Junior High where her children attend school. As a concerned parent and community activist, Kari envisions an exciting and historic, educational venue for future Valley High School graduates to utilize.

Brandon and Kari have lent significant time and energy to the Save the Barn petition and yard sign effort, as well as speaking to the school board during community forums.

Their district counterpart is also an alumnus

Elizabeth Brennan
Elected in September 2009
Current term expires September 2013

Elizabeth is a preschool teacher at Montessori Children’s House in West Des Moines. She graduated from Valley High School and St. Olaf College. She earned her elementary teaching degree, with an ESL endorsement, from the University of Iowa and her International Diploma in Early Childhood Montessori teaching from the Montessori Centre International in London. Elizabeth and her husband, Scott, have two children: Lexi is at Valley Southwoods and Joe is at Stilwell Junior High.  Elizabeth currently serves on the Policy and Teaching and Learning committees.

Address: 804 38th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

The Petition  they had signed and read aloud to the School Board

In order to promote the historic, educational, architectural and other community values associated with the Maplenol Barn, the undersigned residents of the West Des Moines School District assert that it is in the best interest of the School District of West Des Moines (hereinafter “The District”) and the City of West Des Moines (hereinafter “The City”) to work cooperatively such that the Barn can be restored and repurposed in its current location.
To that end, the undersigned residents located in the West Des Moines School District (hereinafter collectively referred to as “The Residents”) do hereby petition the West Des Moines School District to adopt a Resolution approving the development and implementation of a plan to conserve The Maplenol Barn at its current location, and for the City to pursue those policies related to the West Des Moines Valley campus, which will allow the accomplishment of this stated goal.

This Petition and support is premised upon the following conditions:

1.      The District retaining the Maplenol Barn in its current location;
2.      The District transferring ownership of the Barn to Friends of Maplenol Barn  or other appropriate party as required to facilitate grant and other public/private fund raising for restoration/repurposing of the Barn;
3.      The District providing at least $50,000, and possibly additional funds saved by the City granting storm-water parking variances, toward a 12-month Capital Campaign to be managed by Friends of Maplenol Barn.
4.      The ideal Barn Restoration plan will include a kitchen, bathrooms, and multi-use space to accommodate a wide range of educational and non-education uses, including weddings, reunions, business functions, and other appropriate functions on a rental basis.  The preliminary estimated capital budget, based on the Johnston Simpson Barn restoration, is $250,000-$500,000;
5.      The District will continue to move ahead with construction-related activities for Valley High School (restoration of the barn will not impact the construction schedule), and will configure parking and open spaces uses consistent with the Barn remaining in its present location;
6.      The District will work cooperatively will other parties interested in conserving, restoring and repurposing the Barn, including the City of West Des Moines, Friends of Maplenol Barn, grant funders, preservation agencies, and other stakeholders.

We ask the District to extend the deadline of March 1, 2011, which will allow the Friends of the Maplenol Barn to incorporate, raise funds, and draft an acceptable 28E agreement.

Want a photo of the barn? Click the barn below.

Hi, I'm Julia. I wanted to save a barn down the street from my house. It's been moved to a churchyard a couple miles away. Keep up with the barn's story and subscribe to this blog. For more about me, visit my personal blog .
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