Oconee County government and Oconee County schools still are talking past each other regarding roundabouts at entrances to Malcom Bridge Middle School.
Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell sent an email message to all five Board of Education members late on Monday morning, explaining that the county probably will not begin construction until next summer on the planned roundabouts at the parent and bus entrances to the middle school.
None of the four members of the Board present acknowledged receiving Daniell’s email.
Instead, Board of Education Chair Tom Odom told Toole such a message from Daniell would involve the Board in day-to-day operations of the schools and “We don’t do day-to-day operations.”
The Board of Commissioners has scheduled a Town Hall Meeting for 7 p.m. on Aug. 1 at the Civic Center on Hog Mountain Road, which is a joint facility of the county and the school system, that will include a presentation on the Malcom Bridge Road roundabouts.
No one made any mention of that meeting at the Board of Education session on Monday.
Daniell sent his email message to the five Board of Education members at 10:35 a.m. on Monday, according to the copy he sent me. He also copied the other four members of the Board of Commissioners.
Daniell said in that email that the Board of Commissioners has awarded a construction contract to E.R. Snell Contractors Inc., for the roundabout at Mars Hill Road and Malcom Bridge Road.
Snell is based in Snellville and has an asphalt plant in Athens. The contract is for $1.3 million.
Daniell wrote that utility relocations are underway and the project is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 31 of this year.
“We will keep citizens updated with any lane or road closures required during the project,” Daniell wrote.
Design for the roundabout in front of the bus entrance is underway, and the BOC will re-bid the project later this year, Daniell wrote.
Design for the parent entrance roundabout also is underway, Daniell wrote.
That project is being undertaken by the developer of a shopping center opposite the parent entrance. Construction of an improved intersection was stipulated by the Board of Commissioners as part of a modification of the rezone for that shopping center.
“As discussed with BOE staff since Feb. 22, 2019, the lack of on-site storage creates storage into the travel lane and turn lanes,” Daniell wrote.
“With the new road design, storage will no longer be available in the roadway,” the email continues. “Failure of the BOE to provide adequate on-site storage will result safety issues for parents and children as the intersection will also accommodate the entrance to a future shopping center.”
Daniell also wrote that the road improvements in front of the parent entrance likely will result in road closures.
While the time table for construction is not set, Daniell said it is likely to be next summer.
“Please take the likely closure of Malcom Bridge Road into consideration as you plan projects for next summer,” Daniell wrote.
“We will provide updated design information on these two projects once we have complete engineered plans and award the bid,” he said.
Right Of Way Refusal
The county had asked the Board of Education to provide rights of way for construction of the roundabouts at the school entrances, but the Board of Education refused at its meeting on May 13 to do so.
The Board of Commissioners, which is responsible for roadways in the county, including those at school entrances, decided to redesign the roundabouts so they could be built without the rights of way request of the Board of Education.
One of the complaints of the Board of Education, and particularly of Board Member Tim Burgess, was that the county has not explained its decision to build roundabouts in the county and at the school entrances specifically.
Burgess was not at the meeting on Monday.
The Town Hall meeting, usually held at Oconee Veterans Park but moved instead to the larger Civic Center, is one response.
In announcing the Town Hall meeting, the county said “The August Town Hall will also include an informational presentation on the new roundabout coming to the intersection of Mars Hill Road and Malcom Bridge Road.”
Chief Operations Officer Toole mentioned the roundabouts near the end of his report to the Board at its work session on Monday.
|Toole With Bagley (Center) And Superintendent Jason Branch|
“I wanted to let you all know last week I reached out to Public Works Director Jody Woodall for Oconee County, informing him of our bus arrival and departure time for both Malcom Bridge Middle School and Malcom Bridge Elementary,” Toole said.
“During that discussion I asked for some additional information on the time line for the schedule of construction of that roundabout and if the workers who are present would stop work during those heavy traffic or peak times for both bus arrival and departure at both schools,” Toole continued.
“Jody informed me that the Board of Commission Chair John Daniell would be getting with you all, our Board, to discuss what that is,” Toole said.
“That’s all I have to report on that,” Toole said.
Shortly after that, Toole finished his report.
“Alright, just a little clarification,” Board Chair Odom said when Toole stopped speaking. “What did you mean by getting with us?”
“What he told me is that he would be sending communication to each of you, from–this is per Jody, now–that Commissioner Daniell would be sending you all communication,” Toole responded.
“OK, this is day-to-day operations,” Odom said.
“Say that again now?” Toole asked.
“What we’re talking about is day-to-day operations,” Odom said.
“We don’t do day-to-day operations,” Odom added.
“No sir,” Toole said. “Exactly.”
“Thank you. I just want to make sure I understood,” Odom said.
Communication Between Boards
No one mentioned the email message from Daniell at the meeting on Monday, and I did not know that Daniell had sent it until Monday evening.
I had sent an email to Daniell after the meeting asking him to provide me with information on the current plans for the three Malcom Bridge Road roundabouts–two at the school entrances and the third at Mars Hill Road.
In response, he sent me his email late on Monday. That email indicated that Daniell had sent his email to the Board of Education members at 10:35 a.m. on Monday.
Daniell served on the Board of Education from 1994 to 1996.
Commissioner Chuck Horton served on the Board of Education from 1993 to 2002 and was Board Chair the last four years of that time.
Commissioner Mark Thomas was elected to the Board of Education in 2010 and served until he qualified in 2016 for the Board of Commissioners.
Board of Education member Wayne Bagley was appointed by the Board of Commissioners to the county Industrial Development Authority, where he serves with Daniell.
Toole also is on the IDA, though he was appointed before he joined the school system.
Toole told the Board during his Operations Report that the HVAC replacements work at North Oconee County High School “is substantially complete.”
He also said installation of the Oconee County High School Field LED Lighting has been completed.
Retrofitting of buses with airconditioning “is progressing very well also,” Toole said.
The work will result in all of the buses in the system being air conditioned.
Most of the retrofit work will be finished by the beginning of the school year, Toole told Board Member Kim Argo.
Toole said that three additional portable classrooms had been installed at Malcom Bridge Middle School, bringing the total number of portable units to six at the school.
Toole said the portable classrooms at Malcom Bridge Middle School are the only ones in the system.
The Board plans to build another middle school at the Dove Creek Elementary School site on High Mountain Road in the far west of the county. This is the next building project for the school system.
The video below is from the meeting on Monday of the Board of Education.
Toole, as part of his report to the Board, began his comments on the roundabouts at Malcom Bridge Middle School at 10:10 in the video.