After more than three months into the construction of the new high school, Shockey Construction continues to outpace schedule expectations and is ahead of schedule building the new facility. As construction related to Mosby Avenue continues the School Board voted to authorize possible charges to other government bodies for the use of easements associated with school property.
“Shockey Construction continues to be an excellent firm to work with,” School Board Chairman Robina Bouffault said at last night’s school construction meeting.
Gannett-Fleming construction manager Mike Castelli told the school board last night that the concrete building pad was finished and in place and that cement blocks courses were nearing twenty levels high. Based on Shockey’s project management timeline the project is nearly 20 percent complete and on track to be substantially finished on or before January 2012.
Castelli said that crews were still encountering large quantities of stone underground in the west end of the site. Blasting to loosen the stone will continue as workers continue to remove rock and extend the stormwater management embankment further west.
In other progress the “domestic” waterline loop around the building has been completed. The domestic loop supports fire hydrants and other critical water systems.
One additional positive outcome from the better-than-expected schedule progress is that Shockey’s payment schedule is currently lagging behind the actual construction schedule. Although 19.41% of the construction work is complete, only 11.17% of the costs have been billed to Clarke County. With school and county budgets tight in all areas, administrators will likely find ways to put the improved cash flows to good use.
At last night’s meeting School Board Chairman Robina Bouffault (White Post) put forward an amendment that authorizes the school board to charge other government agencies for any easements that may be requested as part of improvements to the school site. Bouffault said that she had spoken with attorney John Foote and had been assured that the concept of selling the easements was legitimate and would be upheld in court. Bouffault also said that it was the school board’s fiduciary responsibility to protect the rights of taxpayers who purchased the property that the easements will impact by requesting compensation for the property.
School board members Jennifer Welliver (Berryville) and Janet Alger (Russell) both expressed uncertainty as to whether Bouffault’s concept was valid and asked for additional time to review the idea before a vote was taken.
“Since you’ve just sprung this on us at this meeting I can’t support it because I haven’t had a chance to consider it,” Welliver said. Alger echoed Welliver’s position saying that she wasn’t comfortable voting for the plan without a little more time to consider the legal ramifications.
Bouffault rejected both Alger and Welliver’s requests stating that she wanted to have the authority to negotiate compensation for easements during upcoming discussions with Virginia Department of Transportation regarding land provided for a walking path and street lights along Mosby Avenue.
Bouffault’s motion carried in a split vote with Welliver and Alger voting “no” and Lee (Millwood), Rhodes (Buckmarsh) and Bouffault voting “yes”.
While the school board didn’t agree on authorizing payment for easement, Bouffault’s motion did include something that all of the school board members agreed on; The walking path and street lights, which will require approximately 40 feet of space, must be positioned on the north side of Mosby Avenue so as not to impact playing field space at the school.