Residents debate proposed new Lexington Richland 5 elementary school

Lexington-Richland School District Five is considering building a new elementary school along Amicks Ferry Road in Chapin.

Proposed new school site (From Charli Wessingger Post.)

“A new elementary school is needed in the ‘Chapin Cluster’ due to our increasing growth in student enrollment,” said the district’s Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hefner at the board meeting in September.

At Monday night’s board meeting, Hefner provided an update to his “Vision 2020”  plan, that confirmed the district has entered into option agreements for property on Amicks Ferry Road.

“As with any real estate contract, the district paid earnest money which is held in escrow until the contract is completed,” said Chief Finance Officer Len Richardson. “The earnest money will be deducted from the purchase price. Ten-thousand dollars ($10,000) was deposited for each piece of property.”

Richardson also confirmed the option agreement has a time deadline, “not more than 150 days from the agreement date of January 28, 2017.”

But the idea of a new school along Amicks Ferry Road doesn’t sit well with many people who live in the area. About a dozen people were at the board meeting Monday. Four people came forward to offer public comment.

“You now want to build this new elementary school on a hairpin turn that only serves a limited area,” said Kim Murphy. “I just ask that you do your due diligence district wide.”

“The future impact of having a school on that particular location on Amicks Ferry Road, means more development will come,” said Charli Wessinger, co-owner of Bear Creek Christmas Tree Farm.

“It’s going to be over crowded just like the other side of Chapin, nobody wants that and I don’t want to pay for a school with my taxes and all these extra funds through bond referendums that we’ve already voted on,” she continued.

An online petition regarding the school has more than 250 signatures and almost 90 comments.

“Traffic congestion and eventual additional development is a big concern,” wrote Alan Hartman of Chapin. “Amicks Ferry Road is not a good option for school expansion plans.”

James Cox of Chapin expressed another concern “establishment of a school on Amicks Ferry Road would be a very poor decision and have a strong negative impact on the immediate area. This is also the only connector road for emergency services (fire, Emergency Medical Services and Law Enforcement) to reach the thousands of residents in those communities.”

Others are taking a wait-and-see approach.

“I’d rather see a school go up there than another housing development,’ said Beth Craft, who lives off Amicks Ferry.

“On the other hand, before a school is built, I’d like to see Amicks Ferry Road constructed in a way that could handle a school because in its current condition, it could not”, she posted.

“I am not currently opposed to the school, but first I want to see how the increased traffic will be handled,” Lewis Lapine of Chapin posted.

“We do not need another log jam like on Columbia Avenue created by the high school traffic!”

The district provided three documents outlining the guidelines to be used when determining site selection for a new school. The district does plan to complete its due diligence process the summer.

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