In an effort to maintain the pace of progress on the Clarke County High School, the Town Council met Tuesday night to discuss details of final submittals. The project has already gone out to bid, but some details are still being refined regarding the Special Use Permit, in particular, utility easements and issues pertaining to the temporary entrance for the school. As details fall into place the remaining issues become easier to identify and the task of ironing them out appears to be relatively clear when dealing with easements. Town Manager Keith Dalton said, “Easement language has been sent back to both sides attorneys for refinement.” Dalton outlined a timeline for revisions and review that would put the final draft before the School Board at their next meeting June 7th and the Town Council at their next meeting June 8th.
The issue of the temporary entrance has become a focal point as the nebulous solution has finally been addressed by VDOT. Superintendent Mike Murphy spoke briefly before the council and said he was, “Shocked by the exhaustive comments the School Board had received from VDOT.”
The list of comments and recommendations threatens to drive the cost of the temporary entrance from previous estimates of $300,000 to a new price tag of $500,000. Superintendent Murphy stated, “It almost seems VDOT has changed their mind over the past nine months since we’ve had these conversations because what started as a very simple paved over gravel driveway, has now turned back into the half million dollar entrance.”
VDOT has been reeling from budget cuts and office closures and most recently has come under scrutiny from Governor McDonnell with sweeping audits of the organization. Because VDOT has been unable to fully fund the contentious extension to Mosby Boulevard, the school has been forced to develop a strategy that encompasses a temporary entrance as a way to “wait and see” if VDOT can fund the road. However Murphy seemed confident that Mosby would be “a go” stating that, “From all of our practical indications we feel confident that VDOT now has funds to build out Mosby.”
Murphy explained that the school would like to have a phased temporary entrance that would allow them to spend only what is necessary on the entrance as the situation with VDOT unfolds.
Keith Dalton raised the possibility of “Revenue Sharing.” In the context of road construction Revenue Sharing means that VDOT will allow interested parties to contribute to the cost of road construction in order to meet shortfalls. This idea was broached earlier in the year and was abandoned by the School Board because it takes money from the budget of the new building for a road that the Town has mandated. However, when it was discussed last night the issue seemed to have some support. Murphy responded to Dalton’s suggestion stating that if the situation continued to be a problem, “That would be an excellent conversation to have with other elected officials in Clarke County.”
The School Board meets on June 7th to continue working on the issues.