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Published: Wednesday, 6/23/2010

Central Ave. land seen as best school site

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Mere weeks after the Sylvania Board of Education approved a purchase option for about 40 acres in the 8900 block of Central Avenue, that land has become the most likely site for building a replacement for Central Elementary School.

The land at 8739 West Central, for which the school board last month approved paying $5,000 for a $737,000 purchase option from Laura L. Bertch and Joan C. Brown, has ample room to build a one-story school with space for parking, two ballfields, and open land that could be maintained for outdoor play as long as its earth isn't moved, Joe Kunkle, an architect and planner with SSOE Inc., told the board last week.

"In some respects, Site 5 looks how we wanted Wolfinger to look," Mr. Kunkle said, referring to the Wolfinger Road site that, until recently, was the district's preferred location for replacing aging and ill-situated Central Elementary.

"Site 5 appears to be the front-runner," board member Dave Spiess said after he agreed with Mr. Kunkle about the layout's similarity of buildings and recreational space on the Central Avenue land to what had been planned for the Wolfinger site. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said a swale at the Wolfinger site was associated with a high-quality wetland.

District officials redrew plans for the property to concentrate buildings and ballfields on its southern half, though opponents insisted it was too wet and remote to be the right choice.

Board members Vicki Donovan-Lyle and Julie Hoffman also cited preferences for the Central property - identified as "Site 5" among 11 site candidates school officials initially considered for the building to replace Central - while John Crandall said, "It does seem to me we've got two workable sites south of Central [Avenue]."

Board president James Nusbaum said action is likely at a special meeting tomorrow. The meeting was rescheduled from next Monday so that all members could be there.

Among questions still to be answered, Mr. Kunkle said, is the extent of remediation needed at the house on the Central property. At nearly a century old, the house is likely to contain asbestos, he said.

Mr. Kunkle's review of possible new-school sites also covered two other locations that the school board left on the table pending that further study: a 16-acre site on the west side of King north of Holstein Road, and a 20-acre parcel on Mitchaw Road north of Timberstone Junior High School.

But the consultant said the King site has many problems, including inadequate size for recreational fields, parking, or a single-story building; an estimated $2.2 million combined price tag for pieces belonging to five owners, and the need to relocate a ditch that runs through the middle of it.

The Timberstone site also would require extensive fill and environmental approvals because it is within the flood zone for Ten Mile Creek, Mr. Kunkle said.

As was the case with the Wolfinger site, the option price school representatives negotiated for the Central property is more than $200,000 higher than its market value listed by the Lucas County auditor. But Mr. Nusbaum said the price reflects the difficulty of provals because it is within the flood zone for Ten Mile Creek, Mr. Kunkle said.

As was the case with the Wolfinger site, the option price school representatives negotiated for the Central property is more than $200,000 higher than its market value listed by the Lucas County auditor. But Mr. Nusbaum said the price reflects the difficulty of finding parcels suitable for Sylvania Township schools.

The Central site was generally well-received by two audience members who spoke, although one asked about the extent of street improvements needed in neighboring subdivisions to support a school there.

The building layout for Central "is almost exactly what we were looking at with the Wolfinger site. I'm happy with that," said Stacy Anderson, who served on the school board's citizen site-design committee.

"It has seemed more appropriate all along," said Jenny Brown, an Elmwood Drive resident who described Site 5 as "essentially in my back yard."

But Elmwood and nearby Manci Drive and Larch Road are all narrow, she said, and asked how much widening they might need and whether street lights and sidewalks would be added for use as school routes.

Chris Green, who lives on Oak Hollow Road in the nearby Forest Lakes subdivision, wore a hand-written T-shirt imploring the school board to pass on the 8739 West Central site and "Put the safety of the children first." The "serpentine" roads of Forest Lakes won't be safe for pedestrians or buses, he said afterward. "The No. 1 thing should be safety," he said.



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