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Quaker Valley board purchases more land near proposed HS

| Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, 11:00 p.m.

Quaker Valley school board members approved the purchase of an additional 11 acres to be used for utility and stormwater management work for the proposed new multi-million dollar high school.

The move comes after the district already purchased 128 acres of land off Camp Meeting Road to house the planned new school.

Based on the topography of the land, district leaders said, the additional acreage is needed to control stormwater running off the site, as well as for road repair work needed during construction.

“If we're going to do this, we want to do it right,” said Joseph Marrone, director of administrative services. “We need to make sure we have the infrastructure so we're not sending tons of water down the hill and not overflooding (the system).”

Board members Feb. 13, in an 8-0 vote, agreed to the purchase of seven parcels of vacant land, totalling a little more than 11 acres, at a cost of about $643,600. Board member David Pusateri was absent.

The additional land was needed because of its location, Marrone said.

After entering into a $7.5 million sales agreement for the 128-acre site previously owned by Three Rivers Trust, engineers studied the land to ensure it was suitable for the construction of a school.

School leaders also met with the local sewer authority, utility companies and municipal leaders regarding the proposed project, Marrone said.

The land was found to have colluvial — or loose — soils, unconsolidated sediments, and cisterns in the ground.

“We have to amend the soil,” Marrone said.

The district is working with Allegheny County and state Department of Environmental Protection officials, he said.

The goal is to make any changes to the site “environmentally friendly,” Marrone said.

That means building rain gardens and adding plants to help prevent runoff. The goal also is to have the stormwater management positioned away from other buildings in the area, Marrone said.

District leaders still have not determined where on the 128 acres the school could be built, Marrone said.

One of the next steps likely will be to have a site master plan done, that would determine where the building would go, Marrone said. The site master plan would require school board approval.

The process likely would take between 12 to 18 months, where pre-design work would occur, Marrone said. During that time, key stakeholders would weigh-in on the needs and wants for the building and it would be determined what of that can fit on the property, Marrone said.

“We want to do this as cost effective as possible,” he said. “Once you have that done, you would have a really good idea of where the building's going to go.”

School officials have said a new high school is needed, as the current building, constructed in 1926, limits instructional programming. The school has frequent facilities problems with pipes breaking and dehumidifiers placed in several classrooms to deal with past mold problems.

Renovations to the current school on Beaver Street in Leetsdale have been ruled out, as has construction of a new building on the Leetsdale site.

District leaders have said they plan to seek voter approval for the district to borrow between $70 million and $90 million for the project.

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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