The Council Rock School District wants to build a 22,000-square-foot addition at Sol Feinstone Elementary School and make related improvements that district officials say will enhance traffic flow at the site.
Representatives for Council Rock discussed the plans at the Tuesday evening meeting of the Upper Makefield Board of Supervisors.
Sol Feinstone is located on Eagle Road in Upper Makefield. Council Rock is seeking a number of variances from the township’s zoning board in connection with the project. Ultimately, the district will also need to earn land development approval from Upper Makefield’s supervisors in order to proceed with the planned improvements.
Doug Taylor, Council Rock’s director of operational services, told supervisors Tuesday that the district would like to award a construction contractor a bid by June. The project would be done in phases, with the final phase projected to conclude in the latter half of 2023, he said.
The school is currently about 75,000 square feet. The district wants to build an additional 22,000 square feet. That would include enlarging the kitchen area and constructing a two-story addition that would consist of 13 classrooms. With reconfigurations that would occur, the school would net five new classrooms total, district representatives said.
A ramp entrance and canopy cover would be added at a rear entrance. Site work would also include creating separate areas for bus drop off and boarding and car drop-off and boarding, a layout that officials hope will help alleviate bottlenecks during drop-off and pick-up times.
Terry DeGroot, the engineer on the project, said a northern driveway entrance with poor sight distance would be eliminated. It would be replaced with an access drive for emergency vehicles. Upgrades would also include adding 70 parking spaces for school staff. Playground space would be expanded.
As it stands, the district wouldn’t need to make off-site road improvements, such as adding a traffic signal or turn lanes, DeGroot said.
Taylor said that construction logistics would be coordinated so that students will be able to attend school while work occurs.
One issue for supervisors was signage. They didn’t like plans for a new, larger school identification sign that would include a light-up digital message board. Such signage was also a concern for a couple of residents in attendance.
“A big, light-up sign isn’t in keeping with the character of the area,” said Supervisor Diana Nolan.
The district agreed to scrap plans for the digital sign. Council Rock representatives said they’d consider other modifications to proposed signage, such as making directional signs of a size that are in line with what currently exists.
Council Rock representatives are scheduled to appear before Upper Makefield’s zoning hearing board in early February. There, they’ll make the case for why the project should receive variances – exceptions to local zoning laws.
Supervisors voted Tuesday to not oppose the zoning board granting the variances being requested, but supervisors are sending the township solicitor to the hearing to ensure things like the signage issues are addressed.
It’s unclear when Council Rock will be back before supervisors for land development approval. The hearings will be open to the public.