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Boards hear recommendation for middle school site

By Kim Walter

During a joint work session Tuesday night, the Warren County Board of Supervisors and School Board heard the assessment details and final recommendation for the site of a new middle school.

Ballou Justice Upton Architects, a firm based in Richmond, presented its findings from investigations into the two possible sites. Site one, the "ESA site," is owned by the school system and is located on the south side of Rt. 55 off of ESA Lane, just outside of the Front Royal town limits. Site two, or the "EDA site," is owned by the Warren County Economic Development Authority and is located off the proposed Leach Run Parkway along the south side of Happy Creek Road. The property contains land within both the county and town boundaries.

According to the executive summary distributed by the architectural firm, both sites could support a new 800-student middle school, with proper development.

The ESA site covers 107 acres, compared to the 23 acre EDA site, but present three "major challenges," according to the firm's assessment.

The challenges include the "lack of a documented right of way or easement from the adjacent subdivision to the site, an access road that would likely exceed the vertical grade recommended by good practice, and a 500-foot-wide federal right-of-way running through the most desirable center portion of the property.

Several issues were taken into consideration during the assessment, including zoning regulations, soil conditions, hazardous materials, traffic and access and cost effectiveness.

Racey Engineering, out of Luray, conducted a general site suitability and cost effectiveness evaluation.

Looking at the ESA site, the engineering firm estimated a cost of $5.06 million. More than $3 million of the cost came from extensive site preparation, and almost $2 million would be put into access route construction and property acquisition.

In comparison, the EDA site would cost approximately $3.99 million. Only a quarter of a million dollars would be necessary for access to the proposed Leach Run Parkway. Even though $1.075 million would be needed to purchase the property from the EDA, the total cost still comes in lower than the projected ESA site cost because only $2.44 million is estimated to cover site preparation.

"Based on the findings of our Constraints Assessment, Ballou Justice Upton Architects recommends that the Warren County School Board consider acquiring [the EDA site] as the most practical and cost effective site for the proposed [new middle school]," the conclusion states.

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Greg Drescher said from here, the School Board will need to make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors for its preferred site.

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com


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