Urbana district likely will buy property


Urbana City Schools is delaying purchase of 68.9 acres on South U.S. Route 68 for two months to finalize details on sewer service.

The district likely will purchase the property for a kindergarten to grade eight school, but school officials want to make sure all the details of utilities are ironed out first, Superintendent Charles Thiel said following Tuesday’s school board meeting.

“We don’t think (the sewer line) will prevent us from buying the property,” he said. “It is just a matter of getting that worked out. Everyone around the table believes that’s the location” for the school.

The district has been looking at the property for several months, and the school board authorized district officials to purchase it after investigating its viability for a new school. The district wanted to be certain the site was a good location for the school with roadway access and city water and sewer service before finalizing the purchase.

The district is trying to nail down how big of a sewer line it will need for the site. It cannot use the line currently servicing Vancrest of Urbana and the former Lawnview School, as the line is not large enough for the school district, Thiel said previously.

Thiel said the hope is the sewer line will eventually become a city line, so part of the cost would be borne by the city. If it is a private line, no other property owners along that stretch would be able to tap into it.

Thiel said he expects all the issues will be ironed out by the end of the 60-day extension in early December.

The elementary/middle school project is at least six months behind schedule because of the potential change in location, Thiel said. The school was to have been built on district land off Community Drive, but there were complications with that site. Now, the district is working on building the new high school first on its existing location and splitting middle school students between the high school and Urbana Local Intermediate to provide enough space for construction crews to do the work.

Matt Niemeyer of Gilbane Building Company, the construction manager of the project, said previously the target date to move into the new high school is March 2018. Work is expected to be completed in summer 2019.

Board attempts to fill vacancy

The school board on Monday deadlocked for the third time on the vacancy created by the death of board vice president Warren Stevens.

Stevens’ wife, Audrey, and friend Jeff Hepp encouraged the school board to fill Stevens’ seat during the public comments portion of the board meeting. The board met in a half-hour executive session to discuss candidates for the position. It had previously interviewed three of eight interested candidates.

At the meeting, board member Alyssa Dunham sought to appoint Darrell Thomas, an 18-year Honda employee, to the spot. The motion was seconded by Board President Jan Engle. The vote ended in a 2-2 tie, with board members Tim Lacy and Jack Beard voting against the motion.

If the board does not make the appointment by the Oct. 28 deadline, the Champaign County Probate Court will make the appointment. The appointment would be through Dec. 31, 2017.

Deadlocks again on Stevens’ replacement

By Casey S. Elliott

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Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.

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