AMHERST – A new elementary school for West Highlands has taken a huge step forward with the selection of the Lions Park as the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board’s preferred location.
The West Highlands site selection committee presented its recommendations to the board’s committee-of-the-whole meeting in Truro last night selecting the 6.88-acre park as the top priority.
The recommendations will go before the school board’s regular meeting next Wednesday. If approved by the board, the recommendation will be submitted to the provincial government.
A 22-acre property on Russell Street, called Victoria Crossing Limited, is the second site and the Harold Lusby property, a 12-acre site on West Victoria Street, is the third preferred site.
The committee likes the Lions property because it’s located in the centre of the school’s catchment area, would allow students to walk to school without crossing two of the main arterial streets in Amherst and would eliminate the need for busing.
There is also easy access to all services, including three-phase power, water and sewer and sidewalks.
“Although slightly smaller in size than the 7.5 acres required, the committee feels that it is adequate,” the committee’s report to the board said. “There is additional land bordering the site which may be purchased. The Amherst Lions have offered to approach the property owner to discuss acquisition. This would bring the total area to 7.74 acres.”
The committee said negatives include its smaller size, its proximity to the industrial park, concrete plant and railway, drainage problems in one corner and its unusual configuration.
The Victoria Crossing property at 100 Russell St. borders on the school’s catchment area, is accessible from three streets and has access to services. However, the committee said, it borders the marsh in a windy area and is located on the outer area of the catchment route away from major traffic routes. There are also concerns with a contaminated property within 250 metres and safety concerns with the lower side’s exposure to the marsh.
The Lusby property, one of the sites rejected by Education Minister Ramona Jennex last year, is also at the edge of the school’s catchment area and has access to power, water and sewage services. However, there are concerns with its proximity to the Sprott Power wind farm, wind conditions and drainage at the lower level that slopes to the marsh.
“Sixty per cent or more of the students would be bused to school. The property straddles the town-county boundary, possibly complicating dialog regarding services, sidewalks and other areas of responsibility,” the report said.
A fourth site, Cumberland Ridge Development and Roymac behind West Victoria Street and Colin Court, was not recommended. Its positives included its size (16.15 acres), central location and relatively even terrain. Negatives included its proximity to an asphalt plant, possible soil contamination, no sidewalk access and concerns with drainage and air and noise pollution.
That property was also rejected by the province last year.