The Urbana City Schools board has not made a decision on whether it will purchase additional property for one of its two new school buildings.
The board discussed property in an hour-long executive session Tuesday, but took no action following the session. The board and school district officials have not disclosed locations they are studying.
The school board has been looking into purchasing property to build the new pre-kindergarten to grade eight building as part of the district’s building project. The project would also knock down and reconstruct the high school on its current site.
The school district planned to put the elementary/middle school building on land it owns off Community Drive, near the Champaign Family YMCA. That property is next to the city of Urbana’s former landfill, which may be leaking methane gas. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is investigating if methane is traveling off the landfill site and working with the city on developing mitigation plans.
The investigation has delayed the building project at least six months, Superintendent Charles Thiel said previously. Site work was planned to begin on the elementary/middle school building this summer, which now will not happen. Instead, the school district is working with architects and its construction manager on starting the high school work first, and the soonest some of that work could be done is this summer.
City of Urbana officials sent a letter to the school board encouraging it to do its “due diligence” on any potential property purchase.
City Community Development Manager Doug Crabill asked the board Tuesday to make sure it was clear on issues any new property may present.
“I think a lot of the issues we’ve had with the Community Drive site were a lack of due diligence on the district’s part,” he said. “I participated personally in the planning process. The road issues were brought up, the utility issues were brought up, and the proximity to the landfill was brought up, even before the bond issue passed. And they were all ignored.”
Crabill was referring to a dispute about extending Washington Avenue to Community Drive as part of the new school development, and extending utilities to the building site.
Crabill added city officials want to make sure the new school buildings are the best for the community, and “it seems when we work together, we accomplish the most.”
Thiel declined comment after the board meeting.
Crabill also corrected an article in the March 17 Daily Citizen that misstates the maximum number of parking spaces the city’s code required for the new development. The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved a variance for 301 spaces for the new high school site. The city required 360 spaces.
In other action, the school board unanimously approved an Athletic Training Services Agreement with Mary Rutan Hospital through June 30, 2018. The agreement trades advertising for Mary Rutan for athletic training services from them, at no cost to the district. Thiel said other school districts have similar agreements, where the hospital or health care provider picks up the cost if given advertising at the school district.
The current year’s athletic training contract is $31,208.89, Treasurer Mandy Hildebrand said.
The school board also authorized advertising bids for masonry repair at the high school gymnasium. Director of Business Services Bob Huelsman said the cost is estimated to exceed $25,000, so the district must seek bids for the work. The work would be done in summer.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.