Cape board set to select parcel for new school

Route 24, Beaver Dam Road top sites for new elementary
Cape Henlopen school board could vote Nov. 12 to purchase land for a new elementary school. BY MELISSA STEELE
November 8, 2013

The Cape Henlopen school board may make a final decision Tuesday, Nov. 12, on where its new elementary school will be built.

The board is considering two parcels, said Cape Henlopen Superintendent Robert Fulton.

The top contenders were land across Route 24 from Beacon Middle School and a second tract off of Beaver Dam Road near the Five Points intersection.

The Route 24 property is owned by Paul Townsend; Delaware State Housing Authority owns the Beaver Dam Road property.

“I feel that we have two excellent options for the location of our fifth elementary school,” he said.

Fulton said the board will discuss the two properties; he was not sure whether a final decision will be made. If the board does agree on a parcel, he said, a vote will be taken Tuesday. Otherwise, the board will vote at a future meeting.

Both properties received comments from several state agencies through the Preliminary Land Use Service. They also were appraised.

In PLUS comments for the sites, Kevin Coyle of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control said among the proposed sites, soil at the Route 24 site was “the least suitable of all the parcels evaluated for development.”

In contrast, Coyle wrote the soil at the Beaver Dam Road site was “among the most suitable parcels for development.”

Director of Administrative Services Brian Bassett said Coyle's comments were meant only to compare the properties submitted by the district for review by PLUS; the comments are not an indictment of the soil quality. He said soil type would not be a deterrent to developing the Route 24 parcel.

The Cape Henlopen School District received state approval in October agreeing to fund its share of Cape's total capital improvement plan. The plan is for a new 720-student elementary school and classroom additions at the two middle schools – six Sussex Consortium classrooms and six regular classrooms at Beacon Middle School and six regular classrooms at Mariner Middle School.

With its approval, the state agrees to fund 60 percent of the total project cost – about $20 million per recent estimates. Taxpayers would have to approve paying the remaining 40 percent – or about $10 million – in a referendum.

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