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Waterline, sidewalk plan on hold

By Staff | Feb 11, 2011

The Shepherdstown Water Board approved up to $18,000 in materials for a waterline replacement along Little Run Acres Feb. 3 in a deal that Public Works Director Frank Welch said will benefit “everybody” involved.

“It’s just a win-win situation,” he said.

Welch believes the waterline upgrade will benefit the town, schools, the county and residents.

But Ralph Dinges, assistant superintendent of construction and maintenance for Jefferson County Schools, the town’s decision isn’t final yet.

Dinges said the county Board of Education will discuss the decision at its Feb. 18 meeting. He said it will be up to the board if further negotiations are in order as far as cost of the line replacement.

“It’s been a costly project,” Dinges said.

Suzanne Offutt, Shepherdstown Elementary School principal, wrote an original Safe Routes to Schools grant, a federally funded award, for the maximum amount of $75,000 in 2006. The grant’s intent is to improve safer pedestrian access to schools and reduce air pollution in school vicinity, Offutt said.

“We originally required 1,000 feet of sidewalk,” she said, which would have gone from the corner of the elementary school to Church Street and connected to town limits at Fairmont Avenue.

But, Offutt said, the engineering studies came back stating the sidewalk project could not happen without improving the storm water drainage. Since then, the schools have been working with the state, the county BOE, and the Department of Highways to figure out how to fund the storm water management issue.

Offutt said the county board approved additional funds for the storm drainage project, and the total cost of the entire project is $285,000.

Dinges stressed when it comes to making a decision, he and the BOE always want to do what is best for the students.

“The board always does what’s right for the kids first,” he said.

Welch said the original plan was for the town to pay for materials and the county to do the construction. Now the town must await the BOE’s decision at their February meeting.

Welch said the plan as of right now is to hook onto an 8-inch waterline by the Maple Green Apartments on Church Street and continue down the road towards Shepherdstown Middle School and Little Run Acres. Currently, the town has a 4-inch waterline there, which is not adequate for fire safety should hose need to be hooked up to the fire hydrant outside the school. Upgrading the waterline from a 4- to an 8-inch will provide fire protection to the schools.

Welch said once the waterline continues around to the SES area, another benefit of having the upgrade line is the possibility of eventually expanding the school’s sprinkler system.

The waterline will continue through an easement and hook onto another line, forming a loop, ending a Fairmont Avenue.

Welch said any time a loop is formed in a waterline, it is advantageous to customers.

“This way, you can feed (water) from both ends,” he said.

“We sure look forward to having this finished,” Offutt said.

Welch said Wednesday that the town has also applied for a West Virginia State Road permit in case the waterline has to be moved.