Many Campground Road residents are not interested in annexing into the city if Urbana City Schools purchases property on South U.S. Route 68.
Residents aired concerns with the school board about drainage and traffic if the school district purchases the 68.9-acre property on South U.S. Route 68 between Vintage Drive Thru and Campground Road for one of its two new school buildings.
The comments were expressed at the school board’s Tuesday meeting.
The school district has been considering purchasing the property and placing the pre-kindergarten to eighth grade building at that location instead of on property the district owns on Community Drive. The potential change of location is due to disagreements between the district and the city of Urbana over road access requirements and the potential for methane gas migration from the city’s nearby former landfill.
Annexation and traffic concerns
Resident Robert Smith provided copies of signed petitions from many of the residents in the Campground Road area who do not want to be annexed if the school district purchases the property and petitions for annexation into the Urbana city limits. Smith said residents believe they are well-served by the their own water wells and septic systems and do not want to be on city water and sewer service.
Campground Road resident Linda Erwin told the school board she is concerned about the traffic issues that would crop up if the district put the new pre-kindergarten to eighth grade building on the property off U.S. Route 68. She indicated conditions are bad now and it would be more dangerous when additional cars mix with construction traffic and farm equipment.
“We have had accidents on the road that did take a life,” she said. “We don’t want our road to be widened either. It would put our houses closer to the street … We just want our voices and our concerns to be heard.”
Erwin and Smith also shared these concerns with Urbana City Council at its June 7 meeting. At that meeting, Council President Marty Hess said the city has no authority to force anyone to be annexed into the city. Annexation only could occur if a majority of property owners petition for it to occur.
Urbana City Schools Superintendent Charles Thiel told residents if the school district builds at that location, the goal would not be to use Campground Road for construction traffic; all traffic would come from U.S. Route 68.
“Except in some extreme case, we wouldn’t want access off Campground Road,” he added, noting there could be a potential secondary access point there for emergency vehicles.
Thiel said initial discussions for the use of the U.S. Route 68 property indicated using one entrance to the school site off Route 68 and creating a gated emergency entrance for fire, police and EMS staff, if the main entrance is blocked for some reason.
Thiel said a traffic study is being done for the U.S. Route 68 property, from state route 55 to Hickory Grove Road, and the property itself is still being reviewed for potential use. The district has until August to finalize a sale.
District officials have been talking to the Ohio Department of Transportation to determine what needs to be included in that traffic study.
Drainage, transportation and radon
Resident John Woodburn expressed concerns about drainage and storm water runoff if a school is built at the location. He said currently there is not much runoff, but said a problem could begin to develop once pavement is put on the property.
Thiel said the U.S. Route 68 site is relatively flat, so water would need to be routed. Most likely, that would be done with retention ponds beside each parking lot, he said.
Resident Summer Woodburn asked about radon and explosive gas venting for the new buildings. She also asked if there would be additional student busing costs by locating the school on U.S. Route 68 instead of Community Drive.
“It’s my understanding most of the children live in town, so I’m guessing you’ll have to bus kids to the school,” she said. “Do you have that in the budget? How much of an increase will that be, and will you ask for a levy?”
Thiel said busing students was already planned for, as students would need to be bused to the Community Drive location. Thiel added consolidating all three elementary schools into one should save some time and money, as there will not be a 20- to 30-minute lag time from delivering students to each school building.
The new school buildings will both need radon venting, as it is an issue in Ohio, he said. The school buildings will not have basements, but will have pits under the foundations that will allow the radon gas to flow. It will be vented outside. There will be monitoring to determine if that system needs to have a powered fan installed to draw out the radon.
The methane gas issue is a different problem, Thiel said. The systems to deal with methane gas migration are different from those for radon and can be costly, he said.
“Our project manager said they had one example of a building that had to implement that type of solution for their particular project,” he said, referring to methane gas remediation. “It was very expensive to put in underneath the school building to deal with and address explosive gas. And you would still have monitoring that is necessary for that.”
Thiel said the school district will meet Monday with city and Urbana Township officials to discuss the annexation process.
Board President Jan Engle said he appreciated residents coming to the board with their concerns.
“We really do listen to your comments. I’m right down the road. I know what the traffic’s like,” he said. “We’re excited about getting school started, getting new buildings. It will be a great thing for all of Urbana.”
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.