It’s been nearly two months since the school system first addressed the Planning Commission in an attempt to get a special use permit approved to build Bryan Road Elementary School.
Planning commission members agreed that someone needed to pay to pave the part of Bryan Road, from Ackerman to Clifford Road that was a gravel road. While the school system agreed, they didn’t think it was their responsibility.
When the issue moved on to the town council, council members echoed the sentiments of the planning commission members.
“We want the school to be built,” council member Gra Singleton said last month. “We don’t want to slow down the renovations at Vandora Springs. But we also don’t want the school to be built on a dirt road.”
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Another meeting followed that one, and now two months later, the town council and the school system have still not reached to an agreement.
School officials say Bryan Road Elementary needs to be built so the students at Vandora Springs Elementary can have a swing space when their school is renovated in 2017, if a bond is passed next year.
DOT officials have said it’s possible they could pay for the road improvements so the school can be built. They will also come to the council on Monday.
But at the last meeting, to reduce costs, school officials proposed eliminating curbs and gutters from the project as well as a sidewalk along one side of Bryan Road.
Wake schools initially budgeted $1.5 million for road improvements, they said. The town’s rules call for paving the two-lane road from Clifford Road to Ackerman Road, and building a third lane along the stretch of road where the school would be built.
Council members were not pleased with the proposal.
“That’s serving a precedent that I’m not sure has been set before,” council member Buck Kennedy said recently. “That’s not consistent with our current policy.”
The town’s rules require curb and gutter.
“It would have to be a change in policy for us to rescind that requirement or to modify it,” he said.
Kennedy wouldn’t speculate on whether the council would make a change in the policy until more information is presented before the council, but he said, “I would prefer to think not.”
Before the issue was continued to the next meeting, Kennedy suggested that the town could delay the requirement for curbs and gutters until the school system gets ready to build the middle school at some point in the future. A condition of approval for that project would be that the school system install the curb and gutter then as the town’s policy requires.
Kenneth Haywood, a lawyer representing the school board said the school system said he was worried the council was turning the issue into a “piecemeal.”
“We want whatever improvements are going to be done to Bryan Road to be done now,” he said two weeks ago.
This was the second time the issued was continued. The council and schools will meet again on Monday.
Project in jeopardy
Monday may be the last chance for the school system and the council to work out an agreement. Joe Desormeaux, Wake’s assistant superintendent for facilities, said the school system would prefer to have the issue resolved by early this month.
If they cannot reach an agreement, then its possible the renovations at Vandora Springs could be put in jeopardy.
Not getting the special use permit passed would put everything behind schedule, Desormeaux said.
The plan is to open Bryan Road as a swing space in the fall of 2017. Vandora Springs Elementary students would be there for a year, while their school is being renovated.
The next year, in Aug. 2018, Bryan Road Elementary would open as a new school.
“We need to get this resolved because there are other meetings that we have to go to the (school) board for approval on in early January,” he said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done at Vandora Springs. So you want to be able to move them out as soon as possible when they get done with school.
“Otherwise you run the risk the renovations not being done in the fall when we want to open Bryan Road. There’s no starting Bryan Road in the middle of the (school) year.”
Kennedy said he is disappointed that the renovations to Vandora Springs depend on Bryan Road Elementary being built. He said the renovations to the school have been needed for years, ever since he daughter attended the school there 35 years ago.
“It’s very disappointing that it might be (delayed) once more,” Kennedy said. “I’m not sure the Wake County elected officials on the school board are aware of the staff’s position on that matter. I’d like to think the Wake County officials would add their sense of fairness.”