The School District of Lancaster has halted a project to replace Buchanan Elementary School after being notified by city officials of insufficient water pressure.
According to a statement posted on the district’s website, “current plans are now on hold until logistical approvals with the City of Lancaster and Lancaster Township can be resolved.”
Construction on the 63,000-square-foot school, located just west of the city line, was slated to begin this fall.
Progress on the $18 million project — which has already had its share of controversy — could continue if the school district approves the construction of a hotly debated water tower the city has proposed on its property.
The 3-million-gallon water tower would be placed in an empty, grassy lot next to Lancaster Community Park, across from Manor Shopping Center on Millersville Pike. It would have a 90-foot-in-diameter base and stand 135 feet tall. Adjacent to the structure would be the new Buchanan Elementary School.
At a school board work session in March, the city’s public works director, Charlotte Katzenmoyer, said the tank would improve water pressure systemwide, particularly for thousands of residential and commercial customers southwest of the city.
Critics, however, have said the water tower would largely benefit the Millersville area, as opposed to Lancaster Township.
Lancaster’s school board, facing backlash from township residents concerned over dwindling green space, hasn’t yet made a decision regarding the city’s request.
A citizens group called Friends of Lancaster Township Park has objected to the idea of adding a giant water tower next to a frequently used park.
The school board, in response, has contemplated ideas to minimize green space usage, including installing a standpipe to add pressure to Buchanan’s fire sprinkler system, rather than relying on the water tower.
“The school board will be discussing these logistical issues over the next month to determine how we can overcome these issues and get the project back on track,” chief financial and operations officer Matt Przywara said in a statement. “Once we have confirmed the project is back on track, we will work with staff to finalize the interior design concepts.”
Discussions regarding the project’s future will take place at the September school board meetings, the district’s statement said.
If constructed, the new Buchanan Elementary School would include improvements such as handicapped accessibility, air conditioning, more natural light, upgraded facilities, a secured entryway and shared space for each grade.