DACC board concerned about traffic at consolidated campus


By Glenn Battishill - gbattishill@aimmedianetwork.com



Traffic safety concerns were expressed by members of the Delaware Area Career Center board when they were shown preliminary designs of a consolidated campus Wednesday night.

The designs were shown during a board work session, which was open to the public. However, DACC officials said Thursday — in response to a public-records request from The Gazette for copies of the drawings — that they do not have copies of the preliminary designs.

The DACC is spending $45 million on the project.

DACC officials said the preliminary designs are the property of SHP Leading Designs, the architecture firm on the project, and that they could not provide them to The Gazette even though they were reviewed at the public meeting Wednesday.

In response to the request from The Gazette, Greg Gaber, managing principal of the SHP Columbus office, said the designs would be made available to the public after they are finalized and presented to the board.

Throughout the meeting, board members and DACC Superintendent Mary Beth Freeman provided feedback about what they liked and didn’t like about the designs.

The center is consolidating all its programs at the South Campus with the $45 million expansion, and will be closing its North Campus.

At Wednesday’s work session, the board’s primary cause for concern was not the design of the new center, but the impact that a larger number of students would have traffic, specifically on U.S. 23.

Several board members said they were concerned about students exiting the center onto U.S. 23 and discussed whether a traffic signal should be added to the intersection between Glenn Parkway and U.S. 23 to give students and buses a safer way to leave the school.

SHP staff members told the board that they had been discussing the addition of a traffic light with the city of Delaware, the Ohio Department of Transportation and Delaware County officials, and would report to the board when they had come to a decision.

Staff members from SHP took the board through the consolidation design — classroom by classroom — and received feedback from the board members.

According to Carrie Malatesta, a representative from SHP, the addition would be build on the south wall of the South Campus on U.S. 23 and the addition would continue onto what is currently empty property.

The expansion will house most of the programs currently at the DACC North Campus, such as automotive and construction, and the expansion will have high roofs and garage doors to accommodate the needs of the classes. DACC officials have emphasized since the announcement of the consolidation that no programs will be cut, and all North Campus programs will move to the new building.

Staff from SHP said that the designs were not final and could be tweaked or changed, based on the DACC’s concerns or needs.

Malatesta said designers from SHP had been meeting with DACC staff members “quite frequently” to discuss the consolidation and get input from instructors on what they would need at the consolidated facility.

Malatesta also showed additional and expanded parking lots for students and staff that would be on the west and south sides of the building.

Board member Ed Bischoff also expressed concerns because of the increased number of doors at the consolidated facility. Board President Julie Wagner Feasel addressed his concerns by noting the security system would be the same as the one currently in place at Wagner Feasel’s home district, Olentangy Local Schools, which she said is secure.

Gaber informed the board that the project is moving on schedule.

“Everything is moving along just as we told you,” Gaber said. Gaber said SHP would take the feedback and continue to modify the design.

Gaber said a final design would be presented to the board on April 21.

Board members said they were pleased with the design.

“At this stage, it looks good,” Bischoff said.

Bischoff had expressed the most concerns during the presentation, a majority of which were addressed by SHP staff.

“This is just very exciting!” board member Tom Kaelber said, likening the feeling to waiting for Christmas.

Gaber said Thursday that he thought the presentation went “very well” and thought the board gave “very positive” feedback.

A preliminary timeline says ground will be broken on the building this fall and construction will begin in the spring of 2017. The consolidated campus is expected to be completed by the second semester of the 2018-19 school year.

The consolidation was originally estimated to cost $35 million.

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By Glenn Battishill

gbattishill@aimmedianetwork.com

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.