MOUNT VERNON – Construction on Mount Vernon City Schools’ new stadium entrance, field house and bus maintenance garage is progressing as planned, but according to superintendent Bill Seder, the extension of Yellow Jacket Drive is running slightly behind.
While the goal was to have Yellow Jacket Drive extended to Cougar Drive by the start of the school year, Seder said the complexity of the project has caused it to be pushed back. The project likely won’t be completed until next spring or summer, Seder said, although a temporary connector will be installed this fall.
GALLERY: Education Gateway Project progress (August 2019)
As of August 5, 2019: The steel framework for Community Field House has been installed (footers and foundation are in place). Excavation for the bus maintenance garage, sitting directly behind the field house, began this week. Work has also begun on the land across the street from Mount Vernon Middle School, which will house Mount Vernon Nazarene University's new soccer and lacrosse complex.
Mount Vernon City Schools is working with Mount Vernon Nazarene University, the City of Mount Vernon and the Ohio Operating Engineers on the project, which will connect the two school campuses and increase access to what will become Mount Vernon’s recreational epicenter.
Because there are so many hands in the pot, Seder said it has taken time to work through the legal and technical aspects of the project. The school district has had to acquire legal easements for the project because it is technically taking place on MVNU’s land. There have also been some unexpected engineering snags, as the district has “had to make some adjustments based off of stormwater issues,” Seder said.
Mount Vernon City Schools and MVNU plan to share the $500,000 bill for the project, Seder said this spring, which will account only for roadway materials. The Ohio Operating Engineers will provide labor and equipment free-of-charge; the apprenticeship program chose Mount Vernon’s project from others across the state after meeting with Jacket Boosters treasurer Bob Tiell last year.
However, because the program is completing Mount Vernon’s road extension project for free, Seder said the school district must operate on their time.
“When someone’s providing a wonderful service free-of-charge, you get them when you get them,” Seder said. “And unfortunately, it’s not right before school.”
Seder did not seem concerned about the delay. The school district and MVNU plan to have the new section of Yellow Jacket Drive, extending from Cougar Drive to the point where it would almost connect with the current roadway near Mount Vernon High School, built this fall.
With school starting in just two weeks, however, workers will not be able to connect the new portion to the existing one this summer. That will have to wait until next year, Seder said. In the meantime, there will be a temporary road installed to connect the two. It won’t make a straight line, like the final version will, but it will instead appear more like a “jog,” Seder said.
Seder expects this temporary connection to be completed by November, before paving stops for the winter. In the spring, construction crews will resume work and make the final, straight-line connection between Yellow Jacket Drive and Cougar Drive.
“We’re really running out of time and I don’t want to take a chance that, you know, [part of Yellow Jacket Drive] is shut down for the first part of school,” Seder said. “We were ambitious to try to think we could get it done now.”
The district is not sure how it will handle the temporary connection between the two roads. Seder said the district will have to decide whether or not it will be used for day-to-day traffic, or whether it will be more of an access road. Those working on the field house, bus garage and MVNU’s new soccer and lacrosse complex will need to use the road to work on their respective projects, Seder added.
The temporary road could bring safety concerns as well, given the awkward trajectory of the road. Seder said that, if the district were to make it accessible to the public, a stop sign might need to be installed.
“It’s not the most safe thing to come in and do the jog, get on here, and then when people go out and jog to the left,” Seder said. “So we’ll have to figure out how that all works when we get there.”
If all goes according to plan, the Yellow Jacket Drive project will still be complete by next summer, which aligns with the current timeline for the field house and bus maintenance garage. Seder said both projects are scheduled to be finished by April.
The field house’s foundation and footers are in-place, and Adena Corporation crews installed the facility’s steel framework late last week. Utilities have also been set up between the high school and field house, Seder said.
Meanwhile, excavation for the bus maintenance garage began this week. The garage will sit in between the field house and MVNU’s new soccer and lacrosse complex; all three facilities will be located across the street from Mount Vernon High School.
The Yellow Jacket Drive extension, field house and bus garage are considered part of Mount Vernon City Schools’ Education Gateway Project. The field house will cost approximately $6.5 million, all of which will be paid for by Jacket Boosters. The bus garage will cost $2 million, and the school district plans to use tax anticipation notes to foot the bill.