St. Clair school district officials are hoping the city will pitch in its fair share so a portion of Shady Street near St. Clair Elementary School can be improved to enhance safety during student dropoff and pickup times.
Board of education members decided to take a wait-and-see attitude toward the project until it can be determined just how much the city is willing to partner with the R-XIII district.
School board members discussed potential plans during its November meeting after earlier negotiating the purchase of the property at 310 E. Springfield Road that makes the improvements possible. The parcel is located on the southeast side of the intersection of East Springfield and Shady.
“We have secured the purchase of the home on the corner of Shady Street (and East Springfield),” Superintendent Mike Murphy said during November’s board meeting. “And what I’ve done is provide a couple of cost estimates for you that improve the street (Shady).”
The cheaper of the two project estimates widens Shady Street from East Springfield to the St. Clair Elementary School entrance and is about 250 feet in length. The other project makes the street wider for about one-tenth of a mile so traffic flow from Highway 30 also would be improved.
The price tags are $185,374 and $296,534, respectively.
The projects would widen the portion of Shady Street to three lanes to include a middle turning lane, add curbs and gutters and improve drainage.
Murphy said he met with City Administrator Rick Childers and Building Inspector Jeremy Crowe about the project. One of the things they discussed was a possible cost share.
“I would anticipate the city’s contribution to be somewhere around 20 percent or if we were lucky at best 25 percent,” Murphy said. “That means we probably would have to foot 80 percent of the bill.”
The superintendent said no federal or state funding could be sought for the project.
“I’m presenting this to you to see if there is an interest,” Murphy said, adding that if the board opted to move ahead, the project could be done next summer.
Board President Dave Berkel asked Murphy if he thought there was any way the city would chip in any additional money.
“Unless the city would commit to more than 20 or 25 percent, I’d be hard-pressed to bring this up as a school project,” Berkel said. “We’re not in the business to build streets.”
Board member Mike Drewel agreed, saying he thought the city should share the cost equally.
Murphy told board members that city officials told him that improving Shady Street would not be a priority project from their point of view. He also said that the school district would generate about 95 percent of the traffic on the improved section of the road.
“I still would like to see the city step up closer to 50 percent,” Berkel said.
The board directed Murphy to have additional discussions with the city before making any kind of final decision on the project.
The purchase of the property leaves the parcel at 320 East Springfield Road between St. Clair Elementary and Shady Street as privately owned.