Freeport school costs might rise to meet township, PennDOT standards
The cost of Freeport Area School District's new middle school could increase by as much as $1.5 million and the building's completion could be delayed a year because the district needs to meet Buffalo Township's stormwater runoff and parking requirements.
The district also must upgrade two intersections on South Pike Road/Route 356 in front of the school campus to PennDOT specifications.
District architect HHSDR Architects Engineers is submitting revised plans to the township that they believe will meet the spirit of their requirements without pushing the district further into debt on the $30 million project.
“We want to work with the township, and we want to get this on schedule,” said school board President Dan Lucovich. “The delays will only cost the taxpayers more money.”
Architect Greer Hayden outlined several options for parking and stormwater runoff control to school board members on Tuesday during a project progress update.
The worst-case scenario would mean delaying opening the school until fall 2016, if the district is required to replace a storm sewer culvert under Monroe Road. The culvert doesn't meet township requirements, based on the site's projected runoff amounts.
Hayden said HHSDR believes it came up with solutions that would keep the project on track and the opening of the school in September 2015.
However, progress hinges on whether Buffalo Township approves a revised parking plan and the firm can develop a stormwater management plan that meets its requirements.
Buffalo Township feels there is inadequate parking at the school campus, which will include the new middle school, high school, administration building and athletic fields.
The district's original design called for 350 spaces around the new school with no modification to about 200 spaces around the high school and administration building.
There are two ways the district can calculate parking usage based on the township's zoning requirements: maximum occupancy, which includes all students and staff; or peak usage, such as during arrival and dismissal and evening school events, Hayden said.
The first scenario would require 1,365 spaces, which is well beyond what school officials believe is needed even if there were simultaneous sporting events and a performance in the auditorium.
The new design, based on peak usage, would add an about 150 spaces through parking areas at the administration and maintenance buildings and around the high school.
The township supervisors may consider the parking plan Feb. 26.
“It seemed like it would be acceptable to the township engineer,” Hayden said.
If it's not approved, it could push the project construction past September 2015, meaning a mid-year opening for the middle school.
The capacity of the stormwater culvert under Monroe Road to which the school campus' runoff drains doesn't meet the township's requirement for a “25-year storm,” a very rare, severe storm.
The middle school design, which includes two stormwater retention ponds, reduces the flow of runoff, but not enough to meet the township code.
The township is requiring the district to replace the culvert so that it can handle more runoff, Hayden said. That could cost about $150,000 and put the district a year behind in opening the school.
Replacing the pipe would also mean releasing more water. That would require a joint agreement between PennDOT and the state Department of Environmental Protection and releases from the property owners to accept more runoff.
HHSDR's solution is to build a third stormwater retention pond to control the flow of runoff from an approximately 20-acre parcel of vacant land next to the middle school site.
“If we can control this water so we can reduce the flow to the existing pipe, we can avoid all that, because I'm not sure we can get the releases from the property owners,” Hayden said. “That might be a way to avoid replacing the pipe and satisfying the township ordinance.”
About $700,000 of improvements are needed to the Silverview Drive and Cole Road entrances to the campus off Route 356.
District officials expected to be required to make improvements there, but until meetings with PennDOT and the township, the extent of the improvements wasn't known.
Alterations include a right-turning lane from Route 356 onto Cole Road and a left-turning lane from Route 356 to Silverview.
“Every one of these intersections require some type of improvement now,” Hayden said. “The fact that PennDOT (said) that we're making a bad situation worse, that's why we're required to do these improvements.”
Additionally, the district revised its plans for a new road between the campus and Monroe Road near Sheetz.
They'd hope to make it two-way, but faced with having to create right-turn lanes into and out of Monroe Road at Route 356, they opted to restrict the district driveway at Monroe to an exit only.
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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