City schools to seek Georgetown Road site
by DELANEY WALKER, Banner Staff Writer
Feb 12, 2013 | 1250 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cleveland Board of Education members unanimously agreed to focus on the Georgetown Road property for the new city elementary school.

The property costs an estimated $1.15 million for 19.9 developed acres. Martin Ringstaff, city schools director, displayed a graph comparing properties at Georgetown Road, off North Lee Highway and a third undisclosed location.

Property owners of the North Lee plot asked $750,000 for 15 acres of undeveloped land. Additional costs included clearing and grubbing, earthwork and creating a detention pond. Estimates brought the total cost to $1.016 million.

Ringstaff said the developed cost per acre for the North Lee and Georgetown properties are $67,700 and $57,788 respectively.

In addition, rezoning is needed to place the North Lee property within city boundaries.

A third piece of property was brought to the city’s attention last week. Ringstaff said the land is 15 acres within city limits. The property is on the west side of Interstate 75 near Cleveland Middle School. Property owners are asking for a base price of $1 million. Development of the land would cost roughly $266,800.

Another factor concerning the third property was presented to the board.

“There could be [Blue Ridge] streams, meaning there could be blue stream runoffs,” Ringstaff said. “We would have to figure out how to mitigate the blue stream runoffs and leave them there.”

Ringstaff met with a third-party Realtor, Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and City Manager Janice Casteel.

“The Realtor, who obviously wants to stay anonymous, said Georgetown is hands-down your best buy as in money spent and location,” Ringstaff said.

He said he believed the mayor felt the Georgetown property was the city’s best option, as well. Ringstaff believed Casteel was good with any of the properties.

Steve Morgan, board member, made a motion to pursue the Georgetown property. He said it was time for the board to enter into serious negotiations.

Richard Shaw, board member, seconded the motion and the board members unanimously agreed on the action.

“I think we should try to negotiate the price one more time [before taking it before City Council],” Ringstaff said.

The Georgetown property will be fully developed 90 days following the end of negotiations.

A Request for Qualification will be issued for architects interested and qualified to handle the new elementary school account, said Ringstaff.

Morgan made a second motion to begin the process of requesting RFQs from potential architects. He said this was vital to entering solid discussions with the property owners.

Peggy Pesterfield, board member, cited concern over the back 5 acres of the Georgetown property. The land is below flood level. Ringstaff and Dawn Robinson, board member, said the land could be used for nature trails.

“There is not enough green area without those 5 acres,” Robinson said. “We do not want another Mayfield Elementary [lack of green area].”

Board members expressed interest in lowering the cost of the back 5 acres during negotiations.

Shaw said he would like to see the new school opened in 2015. Fellow board members expressed doubt in his timeline.

Robinson said there were too many factors to realistically expect a 2015 opening date. She cited construction of the school, hiring new employees and rezoning of the school district.

Ringstaff mentioned the new school faculty and staff would not cause too much of a disruption.

“It will be a very easy switch. A lot of your core teachers and staff are already here due to the growth,” Ringstaff said. “They will simply just be moving.”

He said employee salaries and utilities will probably cost roughly $650,000 annually.

“And that is us being pretty frugal,” Ringstaff said.

Added Robinson, “It is good the county has grown in population. When the county gets more, we get more.”

Continued Robinson, “We should have more money, because we have more taxpayers, right?”