Biggest question remains: If Peachtree City refuses to pave the 2 city streets, how can the new school get built? —
The Fayette County Board of Education on its website has provided some partial answers to questions posed at the Sept. 23 and Sept. 25 public hearings on the replacement school for Booth Middle School in Peachtree City. Conspicuously absent from the answers was pertinent information provided at the meeting by Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch, which might have resulted in different answers than those posted by the school board.
The school board last week held two public meetings on building a replacement school for Booth Middle. The questions posed by the public, and the answers from the school board, can be found at www.fcboe.org.
Once on the site, click the Quick Link tab indicating the “eBoard Site” then click on the “Meetings” tab near the top of the page, then click on the 9/25 J.C. Booth Middle School Public Hearing. From there, click on the “J.C. Booth Middle School Presentation.” From there, the Q&A for the Sept. 23 and Sept. 25 public meetings can be accessed.
There are areas on the Q&A for the Sept. 25 meeting which include answers by the school board pertaining to road improvement questions which are, at the very least, incomplete. Those include:
Under the traffic and infrastructure considerations section of the Q&A:
Question 3. Given that FCBOE (school board) funds cannot be used for off premise road enhancement (per Georgia law), what specific, written commitments have been provided by the Peachtree City Council, the Fayette County Council and the State Department of Transportation for road improvement and construction?
Answer: There are no written commitments from either party at this time. This will be a work in progress over the next two years.
Question 4. How will the FCBOE ensure that the above-named funding entities will increase road funding, if needed, for road construction and improvement beyond existing commitments? How long does the FCBOE estimate it will take to induce these other governments to complete additional road projects to ensure access to the Replacement Middle School?
Answer: (See question 3 above.)
Under the cost considerations section of the Q&A:
Question 3. What prompted the FCBOE to purchase a parcel of land that has no existing road access, without first getting commitments from Peachtree City, Fayette County and the State Department of Transportation for road access?
Answer: Initial conversations regarding access to the property were shared with officials from Peachtree City. The city of Peachtree City will determine their next steps.
A problem with the answers to the three questions above is that they do not take into account a statement from Peachtree City which was read at the Sept. 25 meeting, involving a pivotal aspect of the proposed Booth replacement project. Peachtree City did take the “next step,” with Fleisch at the Sept. 25 meeting making the city’s position clear.
To review, the replacement school would be situated on the city’s far east side, between Carriage Lane off Ga. Highway 54 and Stagecoach Road off Robinson Road, approximately 500 feet from the intersection with Robinson and Hwy. 54.
Fleisch in a prepared statement to the school board said, “Please accept this letter as formal notice of our opposition to the Stagecoach Road/Carriage Lane location for the construction of a proposed new middle school. With very limited improvement options, this site will place an undue burden on the transportation network in the immediate vicinity. Based on our previous experience, traffic improvements can easily reach millions of dollars with limited impact on mobility within the corridor. No such funds are included in the current or future Peachtree City budgets. Further, we request that a comprehensive traffic study be conducted that incorporates the impact of the school, along with proposed new development in the area, before a final decision is made on the location of a new school.”
The statement read by Fleisch was one that will have a direct bearing on the proposed Stagecoach Road site for the Booth replacement school.
The city’s statement was pivotal because it would be up to Peachtree City to supply the funds to improve Carriage Lane and Stagecoach Road, since both are city streets, and because the school system is prohibited from spending funds outside school system property. Improvements could also be required by the Ga. Department of Transportation at Carriage Lane and Hwy. 54 and at the intersection at Robinson and Hwy. 54.
By way of example in terms of intersection improvement costs, the city recently completed the re-vamping of the intersections at Planterra Way at Hwy. 54 and at MacDuff Parkway at Hwy. 54. The work consisted of adding turn lanes on Planterra and MacDuff, both city streets.
The SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) funded projects took 3-4 years to bring to fruition at a cost of approximately $1.6 million.
Additionally, the traffic study for the replacement school, and funded by the school system, recommended using both Stagecoach and Carriage Lane for access to the school.
The traffic study also noted that a more intensive traffic study is required to be suitable for submission to the Ga. Department of Transportation (GDOT). For any improvements along a state route, GDOT requires an ICE (Intersection Control Evaluation) Analysis in addition to a traffic impact study. In addition to the more intensive traffic study, traffic signal modifications will be required by GDOT to make any improvements at the signalized intersections, the traffic study said.
The school board in the Sept. 25 Q&A said, “We have asked the civil engineering firm to contact the Georgia Department of Transportation regarding improvements recommended with the turn lanes on Carriage Lane and Georgia Highway 54.”
With Peachtree City’s intent clear, it remains to be seen what direction the school board will take on the question of the replacement school.
Also in the mix, which presumably would be known prior to the school board making a decision, is the GDOT position on any required traffic improvements on Hwy. 54, along with associated costs and the time frame involved.