BELLVILLE — The village council, with the help of local engineers, is in the process of deciding what to do about the narrow street that sits up against the current Bellville Elementary School building.
The Clear Fork School District Board of Education is polishing plans for building two new buildings — one in Butler and one in Bellville.
The positioning of the building in Bellville is of vital interest, because one edge of the area abuts a flood plain.
School board members and District Superintendent Janice Wyckoff have met with council twice to talk about options in dealing with School Street.
The flow of traffic to and from the new building is under discussion, because building the new structure has several confounding problems.
The positioning of the building closer to School Street than the current structure means what happens in the use of the road may need to be massaged.
As designed, the new Bellville building will be an amended T-shaped structure. School buses would circle in from Hines Street to deposit and pick up children.
The drop off area for parents would be on School Street.
Wyckoff asked council several weeks ago if there could be a possibility that the street could be partially vacated or reconfigured so that approaches to the building could be easier.
The firm of K.E. McCartney & Associates Inc. (KEM) is working with the school district, but also works with the village.
Brian McCartney and Mark Rufener, of K.E.M., presented the village council with four options it could consider on the use of School Street.
Wyckoff told counil there is a $300,000 figure available for street improvements in the budget for the Bellville school.
Three of the plans McCartney and Rufener presented came in under that figure. A fourth was projected to cost $550,000. That would require the village to seek another source of money for funding.
The options presented, by Rufener, were these:
1. This would have a 500 foot improvement and an alley going onto School Street would allow only a right turn. A bit of ground would be cut down on two sides. This would come in under $300,000. The street would remain open. This could be done on the same construction schedule as the school building.
2. This would have three sections of improvements. Some culvert would have to be replaced and storm sewer, water and sanitary sewer lines would have to be replaced. This would come in over $550,000. McCartney said this option provides better visibility at the crosswalk at the top of the hill.
3. This option would leave School Street alone. Parents would have access to the school through Hines Avenue. Some retaining walls might have to be built. McCartney said this one would add “significant cost” to the drive over the first two options because of the length of the acess drive and the need for retaining walls.
4. A section of School Street would be closed and two cul de sacs would be built. This option would allow traffic to circle in then get back out. If properties had to be vacated it would require a traffic study. It is anticipated this option could be done within the current school budget.
Council member Joann Palmer said the first option looks like the best. Others in the council room said everything depends on who is looking at the problem.
Wyckoff told council members this matter is a “highly political issue.” She said it will be a village issue, and that the school board “wants to do what’s best for the village and the kids.”
She said student safety argues for doing something to close the road.
If the village were to take the second option, it would require seeking outside money beyond the $300,000 that is available, she said. That option also poses problems with timing, she said.
The goal is to get children into the new buildng in August 2018, said board president Jim DeSanto. It is important that the board has begun to get the building “footprint” down. He said they need to be “ordering block.”
Wyckoff said she didn’t expect the council to give them an answer immediately but would like to have a feeling for which option they might prefer.