NEGLIGENCE AT DANGEROUS INTERSECTION
Who does not want a cutting edge green school or two or more in Morgantown and Monongalia County? But how about a bleeding green school instead?
The August 15th Dominion Post article on Dangerous Intersections shows that the intended site for the green elementary school is the 6th most dangerous intersection in the area, just up the road from the 5th most dangerous intersection where Superintendent Devono originally wanted to site the school.
And the intended school site is on the same road (route 705) as 5 of the top 6 most dangerous intersections in all Morgantown and surrounds.
No other public school, let alone a large elementary, is situated at one of the most dangerous intersections in the area. No other public school is even on the same road as 5 of the 6 most dangerous intersections (although North Elementary is not very far off).
Even though North Elementary school students and parents are apparently far and away exposed to the greatest number of dangerous intersections on their way to and from school, all along 705, putting a North overflow (green) school at the proposed site (705/119 intersection) would only make that situation worse by adding in the 5th and 6th most dangerous intersections to a school route that is also badly polluted and notoriously congested.
At the spring CEFP meeting when school officials were late because they had gotten caught in Morgantown traffic, former School Board President Nancy Walker declared that “Congestion exists in Morgantown. You just have to work with it.” Oh really? Congestion exists in Morgantown because it is allowed to exist. Congestion exists because irresponsible decisions to build in inappropriate places have been made and have been allowed to be made. And that is what has got to stop or be stopped. In any case the school board would be well advised to start cutting back on its irresponsible and inappropriate decisions and actions.
In addition to scandalously (including in part secretly) piling on to the congestion, Mon Schools’ intended placement of the showcase green elementary school at the 6th most dangerous intersection would expose most Easton and Woodburn students and parents to that congested and polluted and dangerous intersection for the first time. It would be Mon Schools’ first school at a most dangerous intersection. Even by the low standards of Monongalia County Schools, such school siting is negligent at best.
WVU law professor Bob Bastress was absolutely correct in speaking out against the closing of Woodburn Elementary, which is on a quiet, residential, safe, and beautiful site. He noted that of the proposed site for a new school at the 705/119 intersection, in listening to what people say around town: “People think it’s crazy.”
They do. And it is. Crazy and negligent. Even WVU Vice President of Administration and Finance Narvel Weese, though he continues to orchestrate the land sale there to Mon Schools, has been said to wonder at the environmental situation of the site, at its evident lack of quality.
Narvel Weese and WVU did offer Mon Schools land at the the old UHS site to build the school, and though that site remains far inferior to the current Woodburn school grounds, it remains somewhat superior to the 705/119 intersection site. But then what site isn’t superior to that abomination? Both sites are lousy. One is lousier. WVU refuses to sell its higher quality land far above and across route 705 in the neglected protected pasture near the Bicentennial House, though even that site is greatly inferior to the current Woodburn schoolgrounds.
The fact remains that the current Woodburn school grounds is referred to in the green school grant proposal as the other option to the 705/119 intersection site. A new school should be built there.
Better still, two new schools should be built, a modest sized community school at Woodburn, and another modest sized school at a reasonable and responsible site. WVU needs to be a far better community partner in this than it has been. WVU President Jim Clements needs to step in personally. Or the WVU BOG needs to help protect everyone’s best interests by denying the 705/119 land sale.
Meanwhile, the grantor, the state School Building Authority (SBA) is going deep into Phase 2 of the green school grant, past the Planning phase, and far into the Schematic Design phase, with a grantee, Mon Schools, that has no title to the land it schematically designs to build on.
Is that even legal? [Update: The answer is no. See: “it shall not proceed”.] Is the SBA remotely following standard operating procedure here, let alone best practices? The land title may or may not be forthcoming. The land title may or may not be forthcoming depending on any WVU Board of Governors vote which could be scheduled for its September 17th meeting [Update: now apparently scheduled for the November 12th meeting].
So, clearly, the SBA can be flexible if it wants to be. It ought to flex itself into coming up with a grant or two that best meets the needs for building two new elementary schools at judicious locations in the area.
Otherwise, the SBA too is party to negligent school siting in Monongalia County. The SBA would facilitate the only public school siting in the county at a most dangerous intersection and the only public school siting on by far the most dangerous road for traffic accidents, let alone congestion and pollution.
What a green school this increasingly promises to be. Bleeding green.
Dangers of all sorts. Sky high land sale costs and undermining costs. Ever present liability risks.
The intended green school is ground breaking and cutting edge all right. It’s as bleeding green as it gets.