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Engineers: Edgeworth, Leet land suitable for possible Quaker Valley HS

| Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Engineers who spent the last several months reviewing a 128-acre site found nothing that would stop Quaker Valley School District leaders from building a new high school on the land.

Now, leaders must determine if the site would receive government approvals, including permits, and find if there are encroachment issues, before deciding if they want to buy the land.

“It's really benchmarks at this point. This is only going to tell us, ‘buy or not buy,'” said Joseph Marrone, director of administrative services in the Quaker Valley School District. “Basically, we're looking for them to tell us, ‘Are we OK to move on?' ”

Board members entered a $7.5 million sales agreement this summer to purchase four properties that Three Rivers Trust had previously purchased with plans to build a home and farm. That plan was later moved to land in Washington County.

Under the sales agreement, district leaders have until Dec. 27 to decide if they want to move forward with the purchase.

Marrone said he hopes the process to determine if the project will receive governmental approvals wraps up “well before then.”

School board members then would make the ultimate decision on the purchase.

In 2016, the district hired commercial realtor Hanna Langholz Wilson and Ellis to find a site to construct a new high school.

The current school, built in 1926, has its constraints and limits instructional programming, Marrone said.

He also pointed to past water issues in the building and troubles with students not being able to park close to the school. They want a school that offers easy handicap accessibility.

“We said: ‘Either way, we're going to have to put a lot of money into this. Do we put the money into this or a new facility that will take us into the next 100 years?'” Marrone said.

The site of the exsisting school was not viable for future construction, Marrone said. The district conducted a demographic study and hired Chicago-based educational planner BrainSpaces Inc. to help create educational vision for the school.

“They're looking at: How do we want to handle teaching and learning?” Marrone said.

All of this is important as the district looks to constructing a new building and determining what it will look like.

State Department of Education guidelines recommend the district build on a site of at least 40 acres.

District leaders tasked commercial realtors with finding land — even beyond the borders of the district's 11 communities — that was large enough for the school and required combining the least number of properties. They preferred the land to be underdeveloped and greenfields.

“We did look at properties in and out of the district,” he said. People would call, even, when they heard the district was looking to offer their property to look at.

People also said they wanted the new school to be built as close to the Sewickley business community as possible.

The 128 acres, mostly in Leet and Edgeworth, with a few acres in Leetsdale, offers that, Marrone said.

Now that engineers have completed their drilling and surveying of the land, Marrone said, he does not have a time frame for how long the process will take to determine if governmental approvals for the land can be received.

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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