New High School Site

A Letter to the Editor of the Fluvanna Review, published May 15, 2008, written by Supervisor Gene Ott, upon hearing comments made by Mr. William McCullin at the May 7th Board of Supervisors meeting…more millions at stake

As one of your elected Board of Supervisors (BOS), I am responsible to be a good steward of our local tax dollars. As many of you know, I did not vote for the Domino Plan, but I support that decision and am moving on to make sure we build the best school at the best price at the best location.

Shortly after I took office in 2004, I voted with the other BOS members to give the current site to the School Board. It was a decision I have never fully embraced, but the subject has never arisen until some concerned citizens got me directly involved again. The current site is very large but mostly unsuitable for anything except a reservoir or outdoor trails. There are numerous streams and steep hills with deep valleys throughout the site.

To say the least, it will cost millions to prepare the site for an 80-acre school complex proposed in the Domino Plan. The curvature of the road along the site is another concern that has not been fully discussed to date.

After touring the site for an hour, I have no doubt it is a poor one for our school. An alternative is the large field south of the Pleasant Grove House along Route 53. It is a great site and I’m told the original choice of the School Board but not the BOS. It is adjacent the soccer and baseball complex now being built. The land is open and relatively flat with few water problems. Mr. John Gooch on the BOS has agreed to visit the sites, so we will await his appraisal.

Please remember this advice: Carpenters say measure twice before you cut once. We need to fully examine both sites before we dig. New plans are easier and much less expensive than millions of dollars and months of site work at a very poor location.

Some will say I am delaying the project, but I ask: How much site work will be done between November and March, the timing of such a delay?

If we have to plan more, any delay is at the correct time of year. Let’s build the best school at the best site.

– Gene Ott, Fluvanna Supervisor, Rivanna District

I say, let’s revisit the issue of the Domino Plan again. If you’re not familiar with my thoughts on the subject, here’s my rant on investing in a lavish new high school vs providing proper accommodations for K-8 schools. Feel free to add your two cents (even if you disagree).

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