Although last night's BOCC meeting was a blissfully-short one hour session, one of the key items originally on that agenda -- a discussion of plans for the Scott King Road school site -- had already been moved to the May 4 commissioners' work session.
A proposal by DPS to acquire a 46-acre tract along the road elicited controversy from some South Durham neighborhood activists earlier this spring after the school system proposed building two schools on the 46 acre site.
As the N&O noted earlier this year, the BOCC rejected a plan for a 71-home subdivision on the site, which neighbors consider ecologically sensitive, being transected by two streams bordering Jordan Lake. Additionally, Scott King Rd. has been proposed as a retrenched urban growth area boundary in a move that would pull back the UGA line from the Chatham Co. border.
DPS, the landowner, and representatives for Northeast Creek Streamwatch reached a compromise recently, however, which would call for only one school to be built on the property; an elementary and middle school were initially proposed.
Neighborhood activist Melissa Rooney is encouraging residents to support the compromise position, noting in an email that "two schools would be horrible for traffic in this area (both around and through existing neighborhoods)."
"Such traffic would be detrimental to our lifestyles, but also to the safety of cyclists and pedestrians in our area. It would also have too much detrimental impact on this environmentally sensitive area," she adds.
The wrinkle? It's not clear the BOCC would support spending $2.9 million on a parcel that would support one school, as opposed to two.
Next week's discussions will be an interesting one, especially for a County Commission that's re-added Joe Bowser -- who's rumbled during earlier budget discussions that Durham spends generously already on school capital projects, a claim not entirely borne out by cross-county comparisons, though Durham does indeed spend richly on local funding for operational expenses.
The lobbying arrives simultaneous with pleas from Rooney and a number of Parkwood residents for the City to tread carefully on rumblings of future rec center cutbacks. Rooney and others have raised concerns that the new South Durham branch library site at Lowes Grove will be inaccessible to cyclists and neighborhoods, unlike the current Parkwood branch library, and would like to see a community option placed in the heart of Parkwood.
A 2003 master plan called for new rec centers to be located on the periphery of Durham to serve growing suburban areas -- though as BCR correspondent Erik Landfried noted in comments here last week, an early 1990s-era master plan had called for the Walltown rec center only now being built after decades of lobbying.