Two new schools planned for the Upper Station Camp Creek area north of Hendersonville will open in the fall of 2022, Director of Schools Del Phillips told about 100 residents who gathered recently to hear plans for handling infrastructure improvements in the area.
The standing-room-only Town Hall meeting called by County Executive Anthony Holt at the Ocana Community Center had more than its share of tense moments as area residents vented their frustration with county leaders over what they perceived as poor planning and a lack of transparency.
Several county commissioners were also in attendance at the Aug. 29 meeting including Chairman Scott Langford who is also Sumner County Schools’ assistant director for instruction, District 4’s Leslie Schell and Jerry Foster, Moe Taylor of District 1 and Jeremy Mansfield, who represents District 11.
The county purchased two pieces of property totaling 265 acres that border Upper Station Camp Creek Road to the east and Hunter’s Lane to the west in 2015.
Holt detailed the county’s involvement in securing a traffic signal at the intersection of Long Hollow Pike and Upper Station Camp Creek Road since that time. The new school campus will include a high school with a middle school wing and an elementary school in Phase I and a middle school in Phase II. When county leaders voted on a bond item to build the new campus late last year they were told Phase I would include a fall 2021 opening for the first two schools.
Holt handed out packets of information that included correspondence with TDOT and a timeline for the traffic signalization at Long Hollow Pike and Upper Station Camp Creek Road. TDOT warranted the light in March of 2018, Holt said. He added the estimated cost for the signal is around $557,000 and that he has applied for a federal grant with the Metropolitan Planning Organization. If the grant is secured, the county will be responsible for a 20 percent match, Holt added.
He said that the signalization project will include turning lanes, striping and warning lights, and may include other safety measures. The project is expected to be let in late 2021 or early 2022 in two phases, work performed to accommodate high and elementary school and then additional work in Phase II for the middle school.
Citing a Traffic Impact Study completed by a traffic engineer in February of 2018, Phillips detailed planned improvements for Upper Station Camp Creek Road. The Hendersonville Standard has requested a copy of the Traffic Impact Study, but has yet to receive it.
“It’s about safety not only for the schools, but also those who travel that way every day,” Phillips said, adding that the road improvements will happen in two phases.
All work in Phase I will occur in existing right of ways, said Phillips.
Traffic improvements in Phase I will include: new turn lanes along Upper Station Camp Creek Road turning into the campus; school zone warning signals and signage; the widening of portions of Upper Station Camp Creek Road from 19 feet to 24 feet with shoulders, the installation of a traffic signal at Long Hollow Pike and Upper Station Camp Creek Road; the realignment of Hunter’s Lane, new turn lanes at the Hunter’s Lane/Latimer Lane and Long Hollow Pike/Latimer Lane intersections.
Phillips said that Phase II would be constructed once the middle school is open. That would include an additional turn lane length added to the Upper Station Camp Creek Road turn lanes.
Phillips added that the school system will ask TDOT to revisit a left hand turn lane coming from Goodlettsville into Latimer Lane once the middle school is built.
“We’re looking at that,” he said. “We’re hopeful that will happen.”
Phillips and Holt answered several questions from area neighbors – many not happy with the way the county and school system have handled plans for a new sewer system leading to the schools.
“I’d like to know why we’re talking about road improvements without the sewer system being resolved,” said area resident Tony Hibbs. “We’ve got several of us in here that have been ignored.”
Hibbs said that the county’s plans to build a greenway on residents’ property seems to be on hold, but not fully resolved. He also said that the sewer line planned for the school system is larger than needed and will speed up development in the area.
“You guys are going to take our property by eminent domain for private development. It’s not just for the school,” said Hibbs.
Phillips said that the sewer has been designed.
“Eminent domain doesn’t steal property – you may not want to give it up,” said Phillips. “When you go to court you’ll have the chance to say that and anything else you want to say. At the end of the day the sewer was engineered by engineers.”
Several residents have said they have asked to see a cost analysis of the new sewer system, but have yet to receive one.
Others asked for more detailed traffic estimates for the area surrounding the campus and if other phases of traffic improvements were planned for students coming from north of the campus.
Phillips said those weren’t in the works at this time, but that would be something he would ask engineers to consider.
Phillips said he would release the plans and renderings for the two new schools in November to the school board and the public. When asked after the meeting if School Board members were having any input on the schools or campus design, Phillips said he is using the same process he has used with other schools that have been constructed during his tenure.
“We’re not doing anything different that I did with any of the others,” he said.
Phillips also said that he expected the two-school campus, including construction to be bid in November with an opening planned for August 2022. The campus had previously been scheduled to open in the fall of 2021.