West Jefferson Hills board OKs purchase of land

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

West Jefferson Hills School District officials are exploring options for how to best use 151 acres off of Old Clairton Road that they have agreed to purchase.

School board members, in a unanimous vote on Tuesday, approved the property buy from Nello Fiore for $1,075,000.

The district will pay for the land with its committed fund balance that is set aside for capital improvements. There is $9 million in that fund, director of finance Tracy Harris said.

District officials said they have no set plans for the site, but several options are being explored.

“All of our buildings are pretty much landlocked — our elementaries, our high school, our middle school — so there really is not a large room for expansion. For anything in the future, we'll obviously need some property,” said school board President Anthony Angotti.

Keeping in mind the growth that is occurring in the district — attributed to new housing development in Jefferson Hills — and the many needs for building improvements, a facilities master plan is in the works that will outline issues and what is needed for the future.

The district will have a meeting early next month in which residents can learn more about options for building improvements, district architect Ryan Pierce, president of JC Pierce of LLC. More details may be available later this week, on the district's website, www.wjhsd.net.

Architects evaluated all five district schools and outlined improvement needs in each building, Pierce said. Options under review include: asset protection for things such as roofs and mechanical equipment and how to address potential future growth and the aging high school building, Pierce said.

Options also will include ways to use the Old Clairton Road property, Pierce said.

Several studies of the site were conducted during the last several months, including an environmental and mineral review and preliminary geotechnical analysis, to ensure the property was sound, Angotti said. The district hired AECOM to complete the work.

“If you're going to spend $1 million of taxpayer dollars, you want to make sure that you're buying something that can be utilized,” he said.

“It was important for this board and this district to make sure that this was a good, solid piece of property before we made the offer to purchase.”

The first study determined that there were strip-mines and shallow natural gas wells on the site. Yet, the land was determined to have “no issues,” Angotti said.

“We have done our due diligence and we are assured that we have a good piece of property here,” he said.

A closing for the property purchase has not yet been scheduled, district solicitor Lisa Colautti said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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