After a series of testy public meetings between the town council here and Wake school officials, the two parties have finally reached a solution to build Bryan Road Elementary.
However, the solution didn’t come without compromise from both sides.
The school system will get the money to pave the gravel part of Bryan Road from Ackerman to Clifford Road, as it abuts the school and a future middle school site, and make it a three lane road. Most of the rest will be a two-lane road.
The school system will look to partner N.C. DOT and with a developer, who will pave a small portion of the road paved near Ackerman Road for its subdivision.
School officials initially asked the Town of Garner not to require it to pave Bryan Road, but council members insisted that a school couldn’t be served by a gravel road.
Whether the school system gets that money from N.C. DOT or how much is unclear, but school officials let it be known they did not have all the money to pave it themselves.
As a cost-saving measure, the school system proposed eliminating curb and gutter at a December town council meeting. And on Monday night, they too got their wish.
Bryan Road Elementary School will not have curb and gutter along its road frontage as required by the town’s unified development ordinance.
The discussion on Bryan Road lasted nearly two hours, and many audience members who were there at the start of the discussion left before the conversation’s end.
Curbs or no curbs?
During the negotiations, Mayor Pro-tem Kathy Behringer asked why the school system was asking the council to require curb and gutter at their new site, when a new elementary school in Apex has curb and gutter along the road that abuts its school.
Kenneth Haywood, a real-estate attorney representing the school system, said the purpose for the request is to maximize the amount of money available. He said based on their estimates, installing curb and gutter on one side of the road along the school’s frontage would be between $275,000 to $300,000.
“Every dollar that we can save as something that is not a state standard, is a dollar that can be used to get the paving done,” Haywood said. “If the state were to come along and pave this road, (it) would not put curb and gutter in. It is not part of their requirements.”
“And yes, it may be desirable to have curb and gutter, but we’re increasing the cost of the project by $300,000, without the monies known as to where that money will come from.”
Neither side wanted to let up on their positions on the matter. The town didn’t want to have their school on a gravel road and wanted their school to have what others in the district have, while the school system didn’t believe they should be responsible for paving a state maintained road.
But the hand was tipped in Wake County’s favor.
A solution needed to be reached early this month, or the renovations at Vandora Springs Elementary would be delayed again and the council did not want that to happen. Vandora Springs has been in need of renovations at their outdated school. The renovations have been dealyed in the past.
The school system’s 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.
If the agreement were delayed much longer, it would have delayed both projects, putting them behind its intended opening date in August. Joe Desormeaux, Wake’s assistant superintendent for facilities, said a new school could not be opened in the middle of the year.
Although not having curb and gutter violates the town’s UDO, the council agreed that this situation was a unique set of circumstances and agreed to allow WCPSS’s request.
At the end of the unanimous vote, Mayor Ronnie Williams banged his gavel on the table, and said “Hallelujah.”