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Borough council to vote on school expansion plans

September 11, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - In two weeks, the Chambersburg Borough Council will vote on the final land development plan for an expanded Chambersburg Area Senior High School, opening the way for the district to put the project out for bids.

On Monday, the council reviewed the plan, which was discussed at the Sept. 4 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. The plan will be on the consent agenda for the council's Sept. 24 meeting.

"We want it to go out for bids in November and award contracts in December," Chambersburg Area School District Superintendent Joseph Padasak said. Construction on the project, which is expected to take about three years, would begin in May, he said.

With a price tag of about $70 million, the project would more than double the square footage of the building, adding a large academic wing to the north side of the building along Tolbert Avenue and another gymnasium on the west side of the property next to the renovated Trojan Stadium, said Phil Wolgemuth, the borough's director of planning.

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The existing building would also be renovated, and the district plans to demolish a storage building on the former J. Schoeneman property to allow for more off-street parking. Wolgemuth said the district had gone before the zoning hearing board in August, receiving several variances for the project, which is in an area zoned low-density residential.

The borough zoning ordinance allows lot coverage by structures of 30 percent in low-density residential areas, and the district received a variance for coverage of 31.3 percent, Wolgemuth said. Normally, 80 percent of off-street parking spaces have to be paved, but the district plans to pave only 62 percent of its more than 2,000 spaces, using a practice field and other greenspace for overflow parking, he said.

Stormwater from the site also will be stored in underground detention ponds, over which there still can be practice fields and overflow parking, Wolgemuth said.

Expanding the school also will require changes in the current pattern of bus traffic, and reversing Tolbert Avenue from one-way eastbound to one-way westbound has been discussed, he said. Traffic signals in the vicinity of the school would also be improved to maximize traffic flow, he said.

The entire project involves four lots owned by the district on 36.6 acres, Wolgemuth said.

"We're cautiously optimistic this is an opportune bidding environment," due to the slowing construction market, Padasak said after the discussion. In April, the district opened bids for a new U.L. Gordy Elementary school that came in $3 million below district estimates.

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