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Franklin Regional residents take Sloan 'elementary campus' concerns to Murrysville council

Patrick Varine
| Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, 11:57 a.m.
Glenn Skena of Murrysville addresses council on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, with concerns about the 'elementary campus' project that Franklin Regional officials are planning for the Sloan Elementary property off Sardis Road.
Submitted photo
Glenn Skena of Murrysville addresses council on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, with concerns about the 'elementary campus' project that Franklin Regional officials are planning for the Sloan Elementary property off Sardis Road.
Above, VEBH Architects' rendering of the front of the new Sloan Elementary School.
VEBH Architects
Above, VEBH Architects' rendering of the front of the new Sloan Elementary School.

Murrysville Council President Josh Lorenz wanted to make one thing clear to municipal residents: he and fellow council members are not the local school board.

“We don't make decisions for the Franklin Regional School District as to what facilities they build,” Lorenz said after 45 minutes of resident comments critical of the school district's proposal to put a new building on the Sloan Elementary property and establish an elementary campus near the intersection of Crowfoot and Sardis roads.

“Everyone here is from Murrysville, and everyone understands the issues,” Lorenz said.

Many of the same residents who attended the past two school board meetings also came to the municipal council's meeting last week to air concerns about the project's location and impact on traffic.

Russ Phillips, who lives in Murry Woods near the Sloan property, urged council to address what he felt was an already-hazardous situation for drivers pulling onto Crowfoot Road.

“We already put our lives at risk turning onto Crowfoot (from Longview Court) because of the blind spot and the trees,” Phillips said. “I don't believe that's a road we should put additional buses on.”

Dorothy Martin, who lives on Northlawn Circle in Murry Woods, echoed Phillips' concerns.

“Please help eliminate the possibility of accidents, injuries and fatalities at the Longview/Crowfoot intersection,” Martin said, asking for additional stop signs. “We'd like you to be proactive.”

As Lorenz stated, council has limited authority in what it can dictate to school officials.

“We do look at every development that comes into the municipality,” he said. “We can look at things like traffic ... impacts to streams … the impact that development can have on roads and safety routes.”

Municipal officials have established a committee to study the Sloan project and plan to solicit proposals from three consultants to examine the traffic study undertaken by the school district.

“We're not going to go out and do traffic counts or the statistical analysis like the school district's consultant has done,” Murrysville's chief administrator Jim Morrison said. “We'll review their work.”

Glenn Skena, representing the Sportsmen & Landowner's Alliance of Murrysville, or SLAM, is concerned about possible contamination of Haymaker Run, which runs parallel to Sardis Road along the front of the Sloan property.

“This will be the 32nd year for our annual fishing derby,” Skena said. “SLAM has stocked trout in Haymaker Run starting the late 1970s. It's one of the few streams in Pennsylvania that still has freshwater eels. If the ecosystem is damaged, it could be damaged forever and we'd never be able to stock it again — which means our fishing derbies are done.”

Resident Eric Kettering said his concern is for the additional taxes the project will necessitate: a fact sheet posted to the district's website reads that “a conservative estimate for increase in millage ... would equate to 4.52 to 5 mills, phased in over five years, for both buildings and the campus development.”

“When I look at the residents in Murrysville, most of them are retired, they're on a fixed income,” Kettering said. “I don't see how Murrysville can afford this.”

Lorenz said council and the planning commission will consider all aspects of the project over which they have authority.

“But whether this is a good or a bad idea and the impact that this will have on taxes — and these are school taxes — is something we cannot address,” he said.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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