And then there were two

Jennifer Vardy Little
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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. 

Organizations: West Highlands Elementary School, Central Regional School board

Geographic location: AMHERST, 139 West Victoria Street, Chignecto Truro Victoria West Highlands

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Recent comments

  • No Name
    July 07, 2011 - 08:52

    I dont see why anyone is complaining about the location. I went to West Highlands in the 90s and it was falling apart and ready to be scrapped then. People should just be happy to get a new school on the WEST side of Amherst. If you dont agree with the location then dont send your kids there!

  • BigDog
    July 07, 2011 - 07:53

    to answer those concerns...first in the fall speed limits will be 30km/hour in all school zones, and mosquitos are not a concern in the fall, and before July these days

  • Mary Lewis
    July 06, 2011 - 20:28

    I really cannot see how either of those properties would be suitable. They've already mentioned the asphalt plant being a problem for the one. The other one would be on West Victoria very close to where cars/trucks come barrelling in off the highway at over the speed limit. I feel that the lives of the children would be at greater risk at this location even though they would have crosswalk guards. Do they plan to put in a stop light or sign to make the traffic speed less? Another consideration is being off the marsh - allergy grand central plus the plentiful mosquitos - so what would they do there? Spray toxic insecticides? I think it would be a good plan to keep looking for a better place for our children.

    • Concerned parent
      July 07, 2011 - 07:53

      I don't see how either of these options meet the needs of the students in the area. There is already a problem with low numbers at West Highlands school and overcrowding at Spring Street Academy. You would have hoped that the locations chosen might have done a little more to alleviate this. Instead both of these locations are out of the way....many of the kids who live around the railroad tracks would now be closer to Spring Street Academy. Are they going to be bussing kids to this new school?