Archive for Wednesday, June 23, 2004

School laying groundwork for building on 80 acres

June 23, 2004

For school and city representatives, water, sewer, fire and roads were the talk of the town Monday night.

Members of the school board, city council and the city's planning and zoning committee met to discuss infrastructure needs for the proposed 5-8 middle school.

If voters approve a $25.3 million bond election in November, the middle school will be built on the school district's 80-acre site just east of the intersection of Pleasant and Washington streets.

The proposed construction plans also include converting the existing elementary school into a K-4 facility and renovating the junior high and high schools into a 9-12 campus.

If a middle school is constructed on the 80 acres, water will be an important consideration, said Jim Ellerbroek, a civil engineer who works for DLR Group. DLR is the architectural firm hired on a contingency basis to lead the district through construction.

"This side of the city is getting so it has some low water pressures already because it's quite a way from the tanks," Ellerbroek said.

One way to increasing water pressure for everyday use would be to install a pump, Ellerbroek said.

And, so that the school would have adequate water for fire protection, a permanent 50,000- to 150,000-gallon water storage tank could be installed, either above ground or below ground, at the site. This water would only be used in the event of a fire.

"Usually we like to bury them because they're pretty big and they're not the prettiest thing to look at," said Jim French, a DLR architect.

Tonganoxie city council member Velda Roberts brought up the possibility that in the future the city might want to look at the possibility of putting a third water tower in the vicinity of the school. Currently there are two water towers, one on Hubbel Hill and the other on U.S. Highway 24-40 on the east side of Tonganoxie.

Sewer issues

Ellerbroek also talked about sewer issues.

He said the most likely way to hook into the city's sewer would be to run a traditional gravity flow line down to the northeast corner of the school's property. There, a lift station would be installed to pump the sewer to the top of the hill near the nursing home.

"The only assistance from the city would be a requirement that the city owns and maintains the lift station," Ellerbroek said. "There are many other lift stations in the city that are designed the same way."

In regard to traffic flow, architects and others at the meeting talked about whether there should be one or two entrances into the school property off of Washington Street.

Because the school itself has not yet been designed, French said there is still flexibility in planning for traffic.

"It's something that can be dealt with in the future," French said.

And, so that the housing development to the west could access the school, Larry Meadows suggested the school use 12th Street, which stubs off Delaware toward the school's property. Twelfth Street is about four blocks south of Washington Street.

"I think if you made it a one-way street those people in that neighborhood would be able to access the school and not have to go out on Pleasant or Washington streets," Meadows said. "The thing about it is that the residential development isn't done. In another four to five years there's more coming. So you're going to have 150 dwellings south of there when this is done."

School board member Bob DeHoff said that would be a concern.

"It would just become a through street for the people in that area during the daytime, which would not really be good, in my opinion," DeHoff said.

Access issues

John Fuller, who works with the DLR Group suggested an alternative means of providing access.

"We could have 12th Street stub into a cul de sac on the school property and use that as a dropoff on the property," Fuller said.

Giving a larger picture of the traffic situation, Gary Ditty, Leavenworth county engineer, said the intersection of Pleasant and Washington is crowded. For instance, a private driveway is on the south side of the intersection. On the right hand side of Pleasant (in the southbound lane) there's a power pole close to the road. And when turning left off of Pleasant Street, there isn't much sight distance because of the hill to the east.

And, Ditty noted he didn't like initial plans that show a school entrance on Washington Street being across from an existing cul de sac.

"I would sure advocate moving this entrance down (east)," Ditty said. "... Get your traffic away from that intersection, get it down where you're not stacking up traffic on Pleasant waiting to turn left here."

When asked, Ditty said Washington Street used to be a county road.

"When the city annexes land we believe it becomes a city road," Ditty said. "I don't believe there is a paper trail that supports that -- the answer is, I don't know. But when you get outside the city limits there's no doubt that's a county road."

After this section of the meeting ended, school board members met in a five-minute executive session, after which they voted to hired Mike Bush as a sixth-grade teacher at Tonganoxie Elementary School.

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