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Land search commences for West Wilson's next new school
Aug 25, 2004 12:00 am
Wilson County School officials have identified three sites that might be suitable for the county's next new school if residential development does not gobble up the land first.
However, the search for land for the school system's next building project may be a scavenger hunt of sorts as prime property is at a premium in this county's fastest growing community. West Wilson is strapped for sites as constant subdivision build outs eat up land, county and city officials said.
Director of Schools Dr. Jim Duncan said this week property on the new Clemmons Road near Huskey Building Supply, the Stone Ranch property off Curd Road and a parcel of land off Tate Lane near the new Victory Baptist Church are all large enough to accommodate a new school.
The Tate Lane property was considered for the new Mt. Juliet Elementary School site, but was cost prohibitive because of the nearby railroad tracks.
Duncan did not say the three sites were in any way leading the pack for what may be the county's next school, though a team from the school system and system building consultant Education Facility Services have walked the Curd Road property.
Duncan earlier in the month unveiled a long-range capital building plan that ranked the need for a new Mt. Juliet High School at the top of the county's list followed by an addition to Wilson Central High School. A new high school to the mix would allow the present Mt. Juliet High School to convert into a middle school and the existing middle school would accommodate the predicted swell of elementary students east of Mt. Juliet Road.
School System Administration and Finance Supervisor Mickey Hall said a new high school would demand at least a 60-acre site to accommodate parking, ball fields and car traffic. Duncan said EFS is working with city and county planners to pinpoint all available sites, but no offers on any property have been made at this point.
Finding an affordable and available piece of land to accommodate those needs may be a problem.
Mt. Juliet City Planner Bobby Franklin said this week there are probably "less than half a dozen" pieces of property suitable for this purpose and half "of those have problems." When choosing a site to build such a big facility, planners must look at infrastructure, water, gas and electricity sources as well as access, he said. Franklin's office has provided EFS with census data, projected subdivision build outs and state of the art GIS imagery that pinpoints available land parcels.
"EFS will study the possibilities and give us a preliminary report on where we could build," Duncan said.
He noted a new Mt. Juliet High School should be as near the student population area as possible, and it is an ongoing process.
However, time is a factor in the land search as Duncan said a new high school in the area should be ready by school year 2008. He projected this new school will cost "substantially more than any other school ever built in the school system."
"Dr. Duncan has done a remarkable job getting the school system up to speed on this issue," Franklin said. "I advise getting as much land now as possible. It isn't getting any cheaper, and it's going away fast.
Zone 4 School Board member Ron Britt said the need for land in West Wilson County is not new news.
"We can't wait until the subdivisions eat up the available land," he said. "We should be fortuitous enough to plan ahead. We will have to take what is available. The lack of available land concerns me the most."
Britt also hopes this current search will reveal property suitable for upcoming elementary schools. An elementary school requires at least 15 acres and a middle school about 40 acres.
Britt expressed he would not hesitate to ask the County Commission to listen to a proposal that would lock in more than one piece of land for future needs. Mt. Juliet Vice Mayor and Regional-Municipal Planning Commission Chair Linda Elam was instrumental in securing land for a middle school in the midst of the progressing 3,100-home Providence subdivision developed by CPS Land out of Nashville. CPS agreed to sell 23.7 acres at a reduced price of $10,000 per acre. The school board has the option to buy the land anytime in the next 15 years.
Hall said until a parcel of land is identified for this next project, a school can't be designed. He said he hopes EFS will have a proposal for land options by the end of the calendar year.