MC pursues new school project
Building on farm in Rapho faces rezoning, water/sewer service and traffic hurdles MC pursues new school project BY ROCHELLE A. SHENK, Correspondent
Manheim Central school board on Monday forged ahead with detailed plans to build a new elementary school in a Rapho Township agricultural zoning district that does not allow for a school.
The school board viewed an architect's plan for a school to house 750 elementary students with an option to expand to 1,000 students.
Mark Barnhardt, senior vice president EI Associates, a Harrisburg-based architectural firm, presented a proposal for a new building, a play area and two playing fields on the 52-acre Geib farm at 424 Prospect Road. Construction could begin in June 2014 with completion in November 2015.
Since the fall of 2011, the district has considered building an elementary school to house 1,000 students on the Geib farm. Barnhardt said the cost estimate for the 750-student school is $22.5 million, while the 1,000-student option would cost an estimated $26.4 million.
For the plan to proceed, Barnhardt said the district would have to ask Rapho officials to rezone the property from agricultural to R-2 residential.
In addition, the plan would need zoning approval as a special exception, Rapho Township Manager Sara Gibson said Tuesday.
Additional improvements to area roads also may be required.
Traffic engineer Gregory Creasy, president of Grove Miller Engineering Inc., Harrisburg, presented a traffic study based on 1,000 students.
He said the proposed entrance to the school would be about 14 feet west of East Hernley and Prospect roads and that the township would require widening and a left-turn lane installed along Prospect Road.
East and West Hernley roads and Route 72 would have to realigned, and a traffic light with a left-turn lane would have to be installed on Route 72.
Traffic engineers studied Route 72 and Hamaker Road, and, although PennDOT would not require a traffic signal, the township may require a signal or other improvements.
The study also showed a three-way stop sign should be installed at Prospect and Hamaker roads and at Hamaker and White Oak roads.
Traffic specialists also reviewed the 48-foot-long Hamaker Road bridge over the Chiques Creek, which connects Rapho and Penn townships. Possible improvements to the bridge had been discussed by the municipalities and the school district during a meeting in September 2005 in relation to the construction of the Manheim Central Middle School on White Oak Road.
Creasy said the 24-foot-wide bridge can accommodate two lanes of traffic.
"I'm not a bridge engineer, so I can't evaluate the structural integrity. There are some pot holes on the decking, but there are no posted weight restrictions and no indication of a reduced speed limit," he said.
The estimated cost to replace the bridge is $1 million, while the estimated cost of road improvements is another $1 million.
Robert Walsh, chief civil and environmental engineer of EI Associates, presented three options to provide public sewer and water service to the site based on discussions with the Manheim Borough Authority at an estimated cost of $500,000.
The school board also is considering closing Stiegel and Burgard elementary schools in Manheim Borough, and increasing the capacity at Doe Run Elementary School in Penn Township. Costs to upgrade Doe Run are projected to be $7.7 million.
School board member Ken Kowalski asked about how possibly moving district offices to the new elementary school would affect its cost.
Barnhardt said the firm has looked at several options for a possible relocation of district offices, which are located in the former middle school building.
On Tuesday, Nathan Wertsch, business manager and acting superintendent, said that no decisions have been made about relocating the district offices.