The Big Walnut Local School District has ratified a contract to buy 97 acres of land within the Village of Sunbury in order to build a new high school and elementary school.
The real estate purchase contract states the district purchased the farm land from Ray E. McDannald for $1,891,500. “The purchase price includes the access easement and utility easement” of two other parcels of land with the intent of extending Miller Drive and constructing a driveway for the school, the contract states. This extension would be similar to Big Walnut Middle School.
The announcement was made at the Big Walnut Board of Education meeting Thursday. Voters narrowly approved an issue last fall to help the district deal with increasing enrollment.
“With this property, we managed to stay within the numbers we told the voters last fall,” said BOE President Andy Wecker. “I think the farther we get into the design process, we’ll learn what it’ll take to get road and utility extensions to the site. But for now, this is our site. In our economy, with the potential to save money and to save time, the site is a big square. It’s large enough to put the elementary and the high school on the same site.”
The property doesn’t have a street address, but it is at the northern edge of Sunbury, roughly between the Vineyard Church of Delaware County and the Sunbury Water Tower (located north of both). It is also just above Vision Concept Technology, 690 Kintner Parkway. Kintner could be a potential secondary access for bus traffic since the bus garage is on the parkway. However, that would involve another acquisition.
“We looked inside and outside the village,” Wecker said. “We’ve got six townships and two municipalities (in the district). We didn’t want to go too far north, so that takes Kingston and Porter (townships) out of it. If you go too far south, that affects people in the northern part of the district, so that takes out Genoa and Harlem (townships). So basically, you’re looking at that middle range of Berkshire, Trenton (townships) and the two villages (Sunbury and Galena). And when you factor in roads and utilities, the list starts to get very short, very fast.”
Director of Facilities Doug Swartz and Wecker said the elementary school would be built first. Swartz said community input would be sought in July for what should be in the schools. Also, a contingent would visit Ridgemont Elementary School in Mount Victory and Groveport Madison High School to get ideas.
“Let’s go or we’re going to get backed up,” said board member Mindy Meyer. “We’re walking a fine line here.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a board work this hard with five different perspectives to make the best decision for the community at this point,” Wecker said. “I’m very proud of this board. I think this will be not only the best site available right now, but we’ve got a great group of people to build and design it.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.