By MARINA WATERS
Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest just checked off the second “win” in his book regarding the town’s proposal to build a Jonesborough School.
The Jonesborough School officially has a “footprint”.
On Wednesday, June 24, the Jonesborough School Design Committee unanimously voted to approve a design which places the school building on the west side of the site off North Cherokee Street in Jonesborough.
“As we move forward, things will just get more and more important,” Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest said. “But you’ve got to find that footprint first before you can start putting the shoes on.”
After school board members voiced concerns about the school being so close to the road at the last design meeting, committee members discussed two other design options, one that placed the school closer to the center of the site and another that placed the school on the east end of the site.
The town’s consultant for the project, Bob Browning, said the plan to place the school to the west of the site was beneficial in terms of safety.
“From a security standpoint, and in talking with our local law enforcement,” Browning said, ”the closer it is to North Cherokee, the better it is. The idea that it gets back on the east side is probably the worst alternative because the only way to know what’s going on back there is to drive back there.”
Members also said it provided the most car stacking and parking opportunities and also saved funds by not utilizing retaining walls, unlike the other layout plans for the school.
“(Retaining walls) are extremely expensive, “Browning said. “We aren’t talking about the same dollars for those retaining walls, but there was $1 million put in those retaining walls at Boones Creek. If you go to the west side, we’ve eliminated the need for retaining walls altogether. That’s a big savings right there.”
Now that the school location on the site was decided, Vest said the layout for the school can be discussed in more detail. He also said the decision will allow the committee to decide what athletic facilities are placed on the site behind the school.
“It was a good idea to kind of separate out the athletic features from the school because what will take the longest to design and build will be the school building itself,” Vest said. “The (athletics), we should be able to float through that better. To get this location solved allows our architects to keep this project moving forward.”
The design committee also discussed the progress of the agricultural center that is set to tie in to the school.
The school system’s grant writer will be working with Browning and Jonesborough Town Administrator Glenn Rosenoff to produce grants for features within the school, including the agricultural center.
“We love grants in Jonesborough,” Vest said. “We’ve done a lot with them. If we’re able to capture this one on this agricultural learning center, that will be a great addition for our school system.
Browning said the grant the town has discussed with USDA could be for up to $300,000 and would be non-matching. He also said he felt the agricultural center would be an ideal fit for what the grant was designed to do.
“One of the issues that’s been going on in some local communities is their ability to get healthy food products when things run out,” Browning said. “So if you have a pandemic or some sort of issue, your local community can produce what’s necessary for your community to eat.
“It fits what we’ve talked about. We’re excited about the opportunity.
The next school design committee meeting is set to be held in-person rather than exclusively online on July 22, at 4 p.m. Browning said the meeting will be held at the visitor center auditorium to allow for ample spacing for those in attendance. For more information go to https://www.jonesboroughtn.org.