The Western Wayne School District Board has chosen to proceed with a plan to purchase a 36 acre parcel along Route 191 in Hamlin for a new South Elementary School. The next step will be asking the Pa. Department of Education to approve the site plan.


The Western Wayne School District Board has chosen to proceed with a plan to purchase a 36 acre parcel along Route 191 in Hamlin for a new South Elementary School. The next step will be asking the Pa. Department of Education to approve the site plan.
The public was invited to make comment on the site proposal at the special meeting Wednesday night in the District Offices, where officials from Burkavage Design Associates made their recommendation for the Cesar Pifano property over two other alternate sites. The other sites, which were rejected, is the 54 acre Shaffer parcel across the road on Rt. 191, and 50 acres belonging to Arthur Davis on Golf Park Road.
Pifano’s 36 acres are about a half mile north of Route 590 and the Hamlin “four corners” and about a mile north of the preset Hamlin Elementary School.
Pending approvals, the District hopes to be able to break ground this summer and open the school in 2009. The new school would replace the Hamlin Elementary, built in 1932, and the Lake Elementary School, which dates to 1943. Plans are to close these facilities and sell them.
Project Manager Todd Wescott, with Burkavage, noted that the other sites had either a lot of excavation required, more wetlands, steeper slopes or in the case of Davis, major roadway improvements would be necessitated. None of the sites has public sewer.
The Pifano site has gentle to moderate grades, public roadway access, an available outlet for storm water, open fields meaning minimal clearing needed, and a central location. There would be limited use of the front of the land, due to wetlands. No structures currently stand on the property although woods need to be cleared on part of the land.
Water would be supplied from the water company in Hamlin. A Hamlin resident, Roger Shaffer Jr., asked if the water line were extended for the School District, would neighbors be able to attach to the line, and would there be a cost. Superintendent Andrew Falonk replied that the School Code allows the District to attach to the public water supply and pay to have the line extended, which would cost less than drilling and maintaining a well. That would not include the cost of neighbors attaching to the line, but the line would be available to the community, Falonk said.
Shaffer also wanted to know how the new school would impact property values. Falonk reasoned that the school could do nothing but enhance land values.
Storm water runoff will be collected by three bio-retention areas and a basin, said Gary Cavill, engineer. To meet Salem Township’s ordinance, the peak rate of runoff after construction must be 30 percent less than it was prior to development.
The Board approved sending the planning and construction documents, Part C, to the Department of Education. Falonk stated that once approved by the state, the District must hold a public hearing under Act 34, to formally announce the plan to build the school and take comment. The date will be announced.
The estimated cost to acquire the 36 acres is $500,000. Falonk said that having Wednesday’s public meeting allows the District to request reimbursement from the state of about one third of the purchase cost. Total estimated site costs, including an on-site sewage facility, will be $1,421,600, which is the least of the three site alternatives.
The District is planning for a school to hold 813 students. Lake Ariel presently has 401, and Hamlin, 304. As proposed, the 91,000 square foot school would be made of brick and concrete. A $1 million grant has been secured to build the school with “green” technology including geothermal heating and cooling, an eco-friendly sewage system and use of solar energy. The District borrowed $20 million for the project and expects to be reimbursed from the state, $4 to $6 million over the term of the bonds. This would bring the school’s cost down to the range of $13 to $15 million, Falonk reported at a school board meeting this past year.