School board to pick from a pair of sites for new West Highlands school
AMHERST - The province will have to decide between two locations for the new West Highlands Elementary School.
A site selection committee toured six locations, looking at factors like the size of the property, zoning, topographical makeup, location, whether utilities were accessible and if there were environmental issues.
In the end, the committee recommended only two sites, rather than the usual three, be put forward to the province to make the final selection.
The group's first choice, Harold A. Lusby, is a 12-acre property at 139 West Victoria Street on the outer edge of the West Highlands Elementary School boundary. The property slopes gently down towards the marsh, with 8.24 acres above the marsh, and meets all other requirements.
In the report tabled at the Chignecto-Central Regional School board's special meeting in Truro Tuesday night, the committee states it "views this property as meeting the set criteria by a much higher standard than any of its competitors."
The second site is Cumberland Ridge/Roymac and consists of three parcels of land behind West Victoria Street and Colin Count, totaling 16.15 acres.
While the second location is flat and has access to utilities, the committee has some environmental concerns about the property, due to the proximity to the asphalt plant, storage of waste/hazardous materials and drainage on the northeast side.
The remaining four sites scored "well below any reasonable threshold," the report states, with the current West Highlands property ranking a distant third. That site is considered unacceptable, however, because the current school sits on only 2.87 acres, not the 7.5 to 12 acres the province currently request. Additionally, the demolition of the existing property would require the relocation of the entire school population during construction.
Local school board rep David Myles said he's proud of the work done by the committee and the decision is now in the hands of the province.
"Obviously, in today's world, environment is the major factor," he said.
The new school will house 275 students and is long overdue, he added.
"We've been waiting a long while and we've given the province a couple suggestions, hopefully they accept one of these and the government does what it has to to move forward," he said.
The province will do an in-depth environmental study of both sites before making a final decision.