The architects designing 21st century schools for Tallmadge are hard at work.
They shared some preliminary ideas with city planners during a work session July 6, with safety and storm water management at the forefront. Burt Marzley, lead architect with Sol Harris/Day, said he was "excited" to present some site concepts to the Planning and Zoning Commission as plans are being shaped for a new elementary and middle school on the current middle school property on East Avenue.
Presently, there are two elementary schools and one middle school in Tallmadge. Voters approved a 3.9-mill bond issue in November 2016 to replace the 50- to 60-year-old buildings with one new elementary school to house pre-kindergarten through grade five and a new middle school to house grades six through eight. The new facilities will feature state-of-the-art security, facilitate technology use and incorporate flexible classroom spaces to permit collaborative learning, say school officials.
Construction of the new school buildings is anticipated to cost $45 million. The Ohio School Facilities Commission has agreed to pay 31 percent or $14 million of that $45 million cost. The school district will raise its share of the expense -- $31 million -- through the bond issue.
"This is a sensitive location because there are a lot of residents around here," Marzley noted of the construction site. He said a loop road is envisioned to keep construction vehicles away from students. Marzley also reported the architects favor positioning the new buildings on the southern portion of the site, which soil borings indicate would be best. It's envisioned for the elementary school to rise on the western side and the middle school on the eastern side, with a shared outdoor learning plaza located between the two.
Paul Supelak, a representative of the Ruhlin Company, which serves as the construction manager for the project, said the new schools will be constructed simultaneously. "We're looking at starting the foundations the first of the year," Supelak reported. The buildings will feature a more residential type roof form, Marzley said, and be angled on the property so as to lessen their impact on surrounding neighbors.
City Council member Carol Kilway said the site is located in her ward and she reported many residents presently experience water runoff problems. Kilway asked how that will be addressed. Marzley said plans call for an existing detention basin to be revamped and two smaller ones installed. Planning Commission member Dianne Sumego suggested an underwater system be considered. Her Commission colleague, Stephan Ryder, asked if any state-of-the-art options are being explored, like bioretention planters or pervious sidewalks. Marzley said they could be; however, he noted they intended to try to address the problem with the most economic means first.
City Council member John Rensel asked the architects to provide statistics on the safety of detention basins in proximity to a school campus as proposed. "Ultimately, we know there is a storm water issue," Marzley said, "and we are going to be addressing that."
An approximate timeline for construction of the elementary and middle school buildings, provided by the Tallmadge City School District, is as follows: Phased design construction from March 2017 through spring 2018; early site work, fall 2017; elementary and middle school building construction, spring 2018 through fall 2019; building openings may have to be phased, with the new middle school opening in August 2019 and the elementary school opening mid-year.
Twitter: @ EllinWalsh_RPC