Wake County is planning for a new elementary school on Poole Road, but area neighbors are concerned about the potential traffic impacts, a lack of sidewalks and a “very strong sewer smell” that persists near the site.
Plans for the new school were presented before the Southeast CAC at their June 11 meeting.
Elementary school E-28 is planned as a 103,00 square-foot facility to be built on 23 acres of land at the intersection of Poole and Barwell Roads in southeast Raleigh. It would serve 900 students, and the campus would also include athletic and recreational facilities. Boomerang Design drew up the plans. Construction would start next year.
Kenneth Haywood, an attorney with Boxley, Bolton, Garber & Haywood, L.L.P. who is assisting the school district with this project, said the district had acquired the site only a few weeks ago.
“The property has historically been zoned for manufactured housing,” Haywood said of the site. Although schools are allowed within most zoning designations, Haywood said the county would be requesting a change to RX-5, which allows up to five stories.
“It’s not going to be that tall,” Haywood said. “But normal zoning is 62 feet, and we’re going to go a little over that.”
Sidewalk and Traffic Concerns
Matthew Peach, a senior project engineer at A. Morton Thomas & Associates, said they were currently working on a traffic study for the school. At this point, he said, they are working to determine what improvements the new school would warrant in the general area.
“We do know Poole at Barwell, specifically, is not operating as well as we would like,” Peach said, drawing laughter and calls of agreement from those in attendance.
Peach said the reason for this was the current closure of the Auburn-Knightdale bridge.
“The most recent I’ve heard is that the construction will last until close to the end of this year,” Peach said.
“Lucky for us, this school will not be built until 2017 and traffic will be lessened by then.”
Peach said they were also looking into the addition of turn lanes to create easier accessibility to the school.
When asked about a lack of surrounding sidewalks, Peach said the school would have pedestrian connectors ready for when the city makes planned improvements to Poole Road, although he acknowledged this may not happen for some time.
A Strong Smell
Several residents noted that the area in which the school would be built was often subject to a very strong “sewer smell” that “just comes seeping up towards Poole Road.”
The Neuse River WWTP and the Raleigh Waste Treatment Plant are located around five miles to the east near the Neuse River.
Representatives from the school district did not have a specific solution in place for the odor issue, and had apparently been unaware of the problem prior to that night’s meeting.
A Lack of Input
Following the presentation, and after the county representatives had left, the discussion on the new school continued. Many were irate that plans had already been drawn up without much neighborhood feedback.
The lack of sidewalks, some said, was an example of the kind of planning that results from a lack of community input. To have the students walking on “dirt roads” would be “ridiculous.”
These sentiments were perhaps best summed up by local resident Julia McClian, who said:
“We can voice our opinions and some things we might even be able to change, but the main core remains. By the time we come out here, the plans are already laid out.”
The Southeast CAC is organizing a day trip for older adults on September 9 to Virginia, although anyone over the age of 18 is welcome to attend. The bus would leave in the early morning and return by late evening.
Officer Roderick Lee with the Raleigh Police Department stressed the importance of locking one’s car, and noted that all but two of a recent string of car break-ins involved unlocked cars. He also recommended that neighbors sign up for the web site Nextdoor.com, as he felt it was an effective way to send messages to and stay engaged with the local community.
Note – for more coverage on the Southeast CAC, including a crime map and past meeting minutes, be sure to check out our dedicated Southeast CAC page by clicking here.