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Infrastructure solution found with proposed 20-acre purchase

One can't say that Sunnyside School District Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole and his staff don't know how to solve a problem.

Pending approval of the Sunnyside School Board at its December meeting, district officials have come up with a rather simple solution to what was a complex infrastructure development problem the district was having in developing property for a new middle school on Washout Road.

The school board is anticipated to approve the purchase of 20 acres of property from Corey and Ann Berg along the area of Washout Road at its December meeting.

If approved, the district will add the additional 20 acres of property to the already 60 acres the district owns in the area for development of school district facilities.

Sunnyside School District Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole is anticipating the district will save about $410,000 in infrastructure development costs with the purchase of the new property. Cole is anticipating construction on the new middle school to begin in the middle of next year. The 20 acres of new property will place the new middle school right next to the city property line, said Cole.

The school district and city officials didn't necessarily see eye-to-eye on initial development plans for the property.

Cole said the initial 60 acres of property the district purchased was an island of sorts and would have created annexation issues. The school district and the city also had trouble agreeing on what was needed to install water and sewer lines in the area. By purchasing the additional 20 acres near city property, the school district can work towards progressively developing infrastructure in the area to meet future growth needs of the district. The new property purchase will also allow the district to build an additional third school in the distant future or develop the property for other plans.

"It allows for phased in development of the property," said Cole.

Right now, the district plans to build a middle school on the 20 acres of property the district is planning to purchase, pending board approval. Then there are plans to build an elementary school.

New Sunnyside Public Works Director Jim Bridges said he anticipates no problems with the new development plan the school district submitted to the city for approval. Bridges said development of the sewer line was the key issue.

Bridges said the school district is meeting the requirements of the city with its new plan. The infrastructure development in the area includes plans to tie in an 8-inch water line from Sheller Road to the new school site with a 12-inch line that will be extended to the school property from Washout Road. The district will also be extending an eight-inch sewer line from Sheller Road north to the new school site. The district will extend utilities in the area as future development occurs, said Bridges.

"I don't have any problems," said Bridges. "What it does is it makes all the property to the south and east of the school ready for development."

Bridges said following some additional work that needs to be done by the school district and its engineers, the city could issue needed permits in as little as two months.

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