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JCPS prepared for possible street ownership

JCPS prepared for possible street ownership

December 17th, 2018 by Phillip Sitter in Local News

Jefferson City Public Schools officials toured the construction site of the new Capital City High School Dec. 6, 2018, to see the progress. This view is from the third floor looking south toward a curbed street at the edge of an area where tennis courts and a softball/baseball field will be constructed.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

Jefferson City Public Schools' chief financial officer said a street development agreement with Jefferson City would save the school district $145,000 in fees, and that it's a fair compromise for the district to potentially inherit two city streets.

There would be at least some costs attached to that possibility, though, particularly for snow removal.

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The JCPS Board of Education approved an agreement with the city Dec. 10 for the city to use funds from itself and Cole County to reimburse the school district for up to $1.5 million to build a street adjacent to Capital City High School to connect Creek Trail and Mission drives.

"The street is pretty much done, so it's just finalizing the agreement," Jason Hoffman, JCPS' CFO/COO, told the school board last week, adding "we've paid for it so far."

Under the agreement, if costs for the connector road are less than $1.5 million, the district would be allowed to use any remaining funds for improvements to Lewis and Clark Drive or Union Street, or for construction of enhanced crosswalks on Jackson Street at Thorpe Gordon Elementary School or on Linden Drive at South Elementary School.

Hoffman said an enhanced crosswalk would be something similar to what's in place on East Dunklin Street at the Employment Security Division offices, near the district's central office — a push-button system with flashing yellow lights to inform drivers to yield to pedestrians.

Jefferson City officials and a JCPS parent expressed in October concerns about safety and traffic at crosswalks at Thorpe Gordon and South to the Jefferson City Public Works and Planning Committee.

Under the agreement, the city would also only require the school district to pay half the cost of all applicable inspection and construction permit fees for its two high school projects — the construction of Capital City High School and the renovation of Jefferson City High School.

Hoffman said that would save $80,000 at CCHS and $65,000 at JCHS.

In exchange for the reimbursement for the new street and other possible work and waived fees for the high school projects, the district has agreed the city has the right to vacate its ownership of Union Street between Lafayette Street and Jackson Street and Lewis and Clark Drive at Lewis and Clark Middle School and transfer ownership to the school district.

That means if after the city's vacation of ownership of those stretches of road, the school district would be responsible for maintenance such as snow removal on those street sections.

"Until such time the city vacates Union Street and Lewis and Clark Drive, the city shall maintain such roadways in a manner consistent with city standards for regular maintenance of city streets, which shall be determined in the sole discretion of the city," the agreement states.

"We haven't asked to have those streets given to us. The city doesn't want to have to maintain these streets," Hoffman said.

He said that's a fair compromise, though, particularly of the Union Street section, given that it's not really used for anything but access to and parking for Jefferson City High School.

"Lewis and Clark, we asked the city to change the traffic pattern there to make it just one way through there. For the most part, it's just a thoroughfare for our school as well," he said, adding that stretch of road is between the two intersections Lewis and Clark Drive has with Eastland Drive to the north and south of the middle school.

Hoffman said the district has had civil engineers with Central Missouri Professional Services look at both streets.

He said CMPS found Union Street in particular needs some upgrades, particularly the storm drains — "they're in pretty bad repair," he said. There are also several potholes, he said.

"We have an estimate of what it would take to bring (Union Street) up to speed, and we feel like with the money we're going to save under the $1.5 million, that we can bring that street up to good repair," Hoffman told the board, adding it's estimated the district will come $200,000-$250,000 under the $1.5 million.

"Not 100 percent confident, but that was certainly looked at by CMPS," he said in response to a board member's question if there are any risks from utilities or other things buried under the street.

He added CMPS also recommended that Lewis and Clark Drive be milled — have the surface of the road be removed with heavy equipment and then have a liquid asphalt coating applied that would assist in having new asphalt stick to the road — and overlayed with new asphalt.

While Hoffman said the district would have to contract out such work — not owning the kind of equipment needed — snow removal would be less of an issue.

"We have the equipment," he said — trucks with blades — and added, "I don't know that we really have a budget for snow removal," given that it's an internal responsibility of the district's maintenance and custodial staff.

Hoffman and JCPS' Director of Facilities and Transportation Frank Underwood told the board last Monday that any extra costs would be a question of pay for staff for the extra time to clear any new stretches of road.

Hoffman shared information from Bob Weber — the district's retiring director of facilities and transportation — that clearing Union Street of 6 inches or less of snow would take an additional 1.5 man hours and require 2 tons of salt, at a cost of $100 per ton.

Clearing Lewis and Clark Drive would take 2.5 additional man hours and require 4 tons of salt.

"Man hours would be absorbed in the all-hands-on-deck approach of the maintenance staff for snow-removal operations during the work week. (Overtime) or comp time would be an additional cost if (the) event is on the weekend," Weber said.

"We have sufficient trucks (and) equipment to handle snow less than 6 inches. If snow exceeds 6 inches, we may need to contract out to an excavation company that has backhoes or larger equipment," he added.

Hoffman couldn't think of any other work that would potentially have to be contracted out.

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Jefferson City Council still has to sign off on the street agreement with JCPS, and a redevelopment agreement with the school district is on the council's agenda for tonight's meeting.

In the agreement, the city would finance its reimbursement to the district for the construction of the connector street next to Capital City High School with $750,000 of its own money, as well as $750,000 more from Cole County under a joint city and county capital improvements sales tax projects agreement that the council approved last year.

A "hold harmless" section of the agreement states the city would be reimbursed its costs, including attorneys' fees, by the school district in the event that Cole County fails to provide $750,000.

JCPS would also be required to post signage provided by the city at the new street project site indicting that the work is a "Joint City and County Capital Improvement Sales Tax Project."