Lack of traffic study still an issue
The School Levy has had a relatively low profile leading up to the election for such an important vote. The Board did not publicly come out with a revised plan until October and people had started to vote not knowing really what they were voting for. There has been no public forum for discussion (to some degree understandable due to COVID) although recently the Marietta Times has requested questions be submitted from the public for a response from the School Board, but this will happen a week or so down the road, meanwhile, people are voting.
The existing language on the ballot for the School Levy is for the authorization of bonds and a levy to cover the $55.67 million dollar cost. The ballot does not state it is for a two campus plan. Although this revised proposal has been voted on by the School Board, and submitted to the OFFC for approval, the 6-12 campus has not been approved by the State to date and may or may not be prior to the election. I have been told by a school board member there is a good chance they will get approval since the revised plan does not increase the cost of the build but it does demonstrate that there is a rush to vote on it again without having everything in place.
The portion of the new plan that I think still needs further evaluation is the WSCC Site which will contain the 6-12. I recently made contact with a member of the Board to get updated information on what further has been done to determine traffic impacts along Colegate Drive, Glendale and surrounding feeder roads. The response was that they had come out with the plan to split K-5 to a secondary campus and that a Traffic Study was difficult to complete due to COVID changes in traffic, but the company that was hired was trying to address this. My last update on the timing of the Traffic Study was that the project was slipping and that is was doubtful there would be results by the time of the election.
I asked some pretty basic questions to a school board member about the proposed WSCC 6-12 Site. The current number of students would be 1227 and of those, 527 would be in Grades 6-8, and 720 in Grades 9-12.
How many parking permits are issued to junior and senior high school students? Response: It will be part of the Traffic Study.
How many 6-8th graders walk to school or had parents drop them off vs. taking a bus? This is, after all, a site that is not within walking distance for most of the proposed student body. Response: It will be part of the Traffic Study.
How many staff and faculty will be at this campus? Estimated – 140 but some would be coming in evening, assuming custodial this would be in the minority.
What will be the main entrance to the school? Response: The corner of Colegate and Glendale. An entrance/exit coming in from each road held back from the intersection as far as possible. Second entrance further down Glendale Extension for bus traffic. Potential link to WSCC campus still on schematics. All hypothetical as subject to the final outcome of the Traffic Study.
Will there be widening of either Colegate or Glendale? Response: A right turn lane on Colegate has been discussed. Awaiting the outcomes of the Traffic Study. That is probably at a minimum.
The Traffic Study is still critical to evaluating the feasibility of the WSCC site. Colegate is a major artery. Adding 140 faculty vehicles, 150 or so student drivers, parent drop offs and buses to this flow and having an entrance so close to a major intersection and Marietta City Fire Department entrance needs to be thoughtfully planned out and not shoehorned in for us to deal with for years to come.
No existing Marietta school site has this type of existing traffic flow. Right now, MSHS traffic flows two directions, onto Muskingum Drive and Colegate Drive in an established footprint and to two geographic areas. If you have been to 7th & Putnam, Colegate or Muskingum Drive before school starts or when it lets out, imagine combining all of this traffic into the normal Colegate traffic that exists during these peak time periods? We can only imagine at this point, as there is no Traffic Study.
To be clear, I am not opposed to paying the additional levy but I want to make sure that it is invested in the proper infrastructure and facilities. Once built, we will have to live with whatever plan we have chosen by our Vote. Not having State approval for the revised plan or anything more substantial on traffic integration seems like putting the cart before the horse. Let’s get it right the first time.