Cuyahoga Falls -- On Sept. 26 City Council will vote on Woodridge Local School District's construction plans on what will become a campus for all 12 grades.
Planning Director Fred Guerra said Woodridge plans to build a new elementary school facility that will be divided in some respects and house Woodridge Primary School and Woodridge Intermediate School. The site is on vacant land between State Road and Quick Road.
Guerra said this proposed building will make up 15 percent of an 80-acre campus. The elementary building will be designed to accommodate 900 students in grades Pre-K-5. The school will contain administrative, media center, intermediate school gymnasium, primary school gymnasium, student dining, food preparation, shipping-receiving and maintenance areas, according to a report issued by the city planning division.
Guerra said the project also includes parking and a private drive built to the same specifications as a public street. He said the building will have two two-story classroom wings.
Plans also call for a new high school gym to be built on the north side of the high school and next to the baseball field. The high school will also see updates including a new locker room and a new 140-space parking lot.
The city's Planning Commission approved the project Sept. 7 with recommendations that the district adopt all traffic impact analysis recommendations, stormwater plan recommendations, install a new left-turn lane on State Road, implement a streetscape plan allowing for better pedestrian access and comply with city standards on the private access road.
A detention basin for stormwater drainage is planned next to State Road for the new elementary school. The high school gymnasium will use underground storage and existing high school storm basins. Both the city engineering department and Summit Soil and Water Conservation District need to review the stormwater pollution prevention plans.
"We're really excited about this development for the school district," Guerra said.
Woodridge Local School District Superintendent Walter Davis said an extensive master plan process began four years ago now. Working with the community and architects, the district drew up a plan to address overcrowding and maintenance issues at its two aging elementary schools in Peninsula and on Northampton Road.
"We decided it would be wiser for the taxpayers to build new rather than repair old," Davis said.
Once the Pre-K through 5 building is finished, all school district buildings will be located within the city of Cuyahoga Falls, said Davis. Currently the intermediate school is at 1930 Bronson Ave. in Peninsula. The primary students will be in one section of the new building, while the intermediate students will be in a different area.
In addition, a larger gymnasium is needed so all four grades in the high school can gather together for an event without having the freshmen sit on the floor, he said. The proposed gymnasium will have seating for 1,000 and the floor will be large enough to accommodate three full wrestling mats enabling the district to host tournaments.
The current gymnasium will continue to be used as an auxiliary facility.
A new roof needed on the middle school has been completed, Davis added.
All of these construction and improvement projects are being funded by a 3.7-mill, 35-year bond issue approved by Woodridge voters in November 2015. Davis said he was "overjoyed" the night of the election. "The community understood the need," he said. "We hired a number of professionals to help us, including Braun and Steidl Architects who designed the building we are standing in: The Natatorium."
Construction will be done by Welty Building Corporation of Akron, Davis added.
"This is exciting for us because we will have all of our students on one campus within the city of Cuyahoga Falls," Davis said.
"I've always thought the Woodridge schools are a gem in this community," said Council President Mary Ellen Pyke (R-2), "but they were too spread out."
The question was raised whether a stop light would be added at the intersection of State and Quick roads. Guerra said that was not being planned. Pyke said she doesn't want to wait to consider a light there "after we have a number of accidents I want to err on the side of caution."
Guerra told the Falls News-Press on Sept. 22 that a traffic light is not in the traffic plan nor is it in the planning commission recommendation.