The most significant factor in determining whether the pool and turf fields for the new Verona Area High School would be affordable remains an unknown after more than a year of discussion between the school district and City of Verona.
The Common Council and school board approved an agreement in May outlining intersection improvements the district would pay for, money the city would pay in return for the Sugar Creek Elementary School land and specifying a road from the new high school to South Nine Mound Road.
At that point, all that was left was for the district to acquire land from S&E Enterprises, an excavating company with property between Nine Mound and the site. The road’s proposed layout would cut the property in half, forcing the business to move, and that left the landowner asking for at least $2.5 million for the right-of-way through it, much more than the district had anticipated.
As negotiations fizzled between the district and S&E, school district officials returned to the city asking alders to consider alternative options again – and quickly, as decisions on the project scope and construction plans loomed.
Specifically, they asked to revisit the idea of a road connecting to Paoli Street, which had been part of the initial plan prior to the referendum.
Initial talks with the Coating Place had limited the district to building a road 500 feet from the U.S. Hwy. 18-151 interchange, half the distance the state Department of Transportation’s usually requires, and members of a city committee indicated the city would not support a petition for a waiver.
The most recent options being considered, according to an open records request fulfilled late last month, would allow for a road 800 feet from the bypass intersection, which city leaders have said they would support. But the tradeoffs brought concerns from superintendent Dean Gorrell because of the effect on the woodland area, which is planned for a school forest and cross country course.
Points being negotiated include a land swap with the Coating Place that would allow about one-third of the Stewart’s Woods property to be used for development or roads leading to development. Some of that land it is already owned by the Coating Place but not available for development, and some of it is already designated as a future access road for development on the southwest side of the city.