New Alcoa High could meet May groundbreaking
By Matthew Stewart | (email@example.com)
(Editor’s note: The price of the land was incorrectly reported at $253,000 in Thursday’s edition. We regret the error).
If the new Alcoa High School’s project team can start required environmental tests within the next several days, they can still meet a proposed May groundbreaking.
Alcoa City Commission has authorized a land purchase agreement that will pay $235,000 for 53 acres of ALCOA Inc. property for the new Alcoa High School.
The separate contracts concern 25 acres southwest of the current high school’s location and 28 acres in the Lake Louise area, a former waste disposal site.
City officials, ALCOA Inc. and Chattanooga-based developers Kinsey Probasco Hays held lengthy negotiations regarding the school site’s acquisition. Kinsey Probasco Hays owns the former ALCOA Inc. West Plant site, a 375-acre property bounded by Hall Road, Alcoa Highway, Hunt Road, Mills Street and Faraday Street.
Officials are in the process of executing the legal documents, said Barry Brooke, executive vice president of commercial development for property development and management firm Lawler-Wood. The firm is serving as Alcoa City Schools’ project representative.
The Lewis Group has prepared and submitted project plans to the state Fire Marshal’s Office, he said. They received “minimal comments,” and the plans are ready for bidding.
The Alcoa Board of Education Building Committee has approved Merit Construction’s recommended list of subcontractors and suppliers to bid on the project, Brooke said. The firm expects to issue plans for bid in mid- to late-March.
The project team’s current focus is addressing environmental concerns, he said. Team members are working with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to determine the necessary testing for a brownfield voluntary agreement.
The brownfield voluntary agreement will provide an “umbrella of protection for the purchaser,” said Chris Soro, owner of Alcoa engineering company C2RL. The Alcoa Service Center has a brownfield voluntary agreement, as well.
During Thursday’s meeting, the Alcoa Board of Education approved $384,200 to enter into a final agreement with C2RL. The company has been working off two agreements.
C2RL will perform topography mapping, boundary surveying, civil engineering, storm water management design and grading/site work design. To date, the board has authorized $180,700.
The school board also authorized up to $75,000 for the engagement of various environmental testing firms to fulfill TDEC requirements. The authorization doesn’t include any work for the Lake Louise property.
The board also approved an additional five months for Lawler Wood, because the project’s first phase has exceeded the firm’s expectations. Board members approved $87,500 for the company, but the authorization won’t increase its overall fee, as it only affects the timing of payments.
Additional site testing
Geotechnical engineers sampled an area near the baseball and softball fields about two weeks ago, Brooke said. The preliminary field results are favorable, and the project team is awaiting lab results for final verification.
Engineers will start next week their geotechnical investigation of this area, he said. The project team hopes to use the area’s soil for fill under the new high school.
Officials plan to use between 15 feet and 17 feet of fill under the school, Brooke said. The fill will “encapsulate the current site.”
Officials have located about 40,000 cubic yards of soil in this area, Soro said. They estimate 115,000 cubic yards of soil will be required for the entire school construction project.
TDEC has requested specific testing on the new high school’s site, Brooke said. The project team is currently awaiting permission from ALCOA Inc. to perform soil gas sampling and environmental testing around the old clarifier and settlement basin.
“If we can get permission within several days, we will be on track for a May groundbreaking,” he said.
Geotechnical engineers will spend between 24 and 48 hours performing necessary drilling for the soil gas study, Brooke said. Soil gases are “volatile organics, usually old petroleum products.” Engineers will drill between four and five feet, Soro said. They are looking for surface gas.
Officials should receive final results within 30 days, Brooke said. They don’t anticipate any findings.
Engineers performed a geotechnical study on the new high school’s site last year, Soro said. They drilled between 20 feet and 25 feet on the site and measured for volatile organics. None were discovered.
Engineers drilled a broad area last year, he said. They will only drill a 75-foot grid under the future building for the soil gas study.
The project team has researched historical data concerning the old clarifier and settlement basin, which is located on the site’s eastern side, Brooke said. However, team members are undertaking further investigation.
Engineers will spend about four weeks investigating the area, including testing and lab results, he said. “We don’t anticipate any problems. We’ve had zero results on the site. We wouldn’t be building there if we believed it wasn’t an ideal site.”
The project team has located aerial photos published by the Environmental Protection Agency, which show the new high school site’s condition in 1938, Brooke said. ALCOA Inc. removed material in the area to make bricks for the West Plant. The area was also used for cattle.
2015 completion date
The new Alcoa High School will be about five feet lower than the baseball field’s center. However, it will appear as part of the campus due to its distance.
Officials have outlined three development phases.
The project’s first phase will be the school, parking lots and roadwork, and the second phase will be an auxiliary gym that will be constructed. The third phase will be football stadium renovations, in addition to the construction of a track in the Lake Louise area. The building program’s second and third phases will be completed as funding becomes available.
The stadium renovation project’s scope will include a new field house, press box and concessions area. Officials also plan to install a synthetic turf field system.
The new Alcoa High School is expected to be completed in April 2015 in time for its opening in July 2015.