SHEFFIELD — With their shovels poised, the Sheffield-Sheffield Lake school district superintendent, school board and others dug the first ground at the site of a new $31 million school building Saturday morning.
The new building, made possible by voters who approved a 4.94-mill, $31 million bond levy in May 2011, will house students in grades seven through 12. MKC Associates was hired for the construction of the facility, and Regency Construction will manage the project.
Superintendent Will Folger thanked the approximately 150 people in attendance at Saturday’s ceremony for their support.
“We had no idea there would be this many people,” he said. “We’re very pleased there is this many people.”
The 140,000-square-foot facility was described by Folger as “the building in the woods.” The building will be surrounded by 39 acres of preserved wetlands, something that has proven some difficulty in planning the project.
The project is expected to be completed in September 2014, but it was delayed for about eight months while the district worked with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Historical Society to get permission to build on the site.
The district received permission to build on 5.6 acres of wetlands, Folger said, but the rest of the land is to be preserved as a park area for residents to use.
“It will be very special — something the community can really, really be proud of,” Folger told the crowd Saturday.
Also in attendance Saturday were state Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria; Beth Thames, representative for Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon; Sheffield Lake Mayor Dennis Bring; Sheffield Mayor John Hunter; and state Sen. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville.
Manning, a graduate of the current Brookside High School, remarked that the new school building was a long time in the making.
“When I hear people say it’s time to replace the building, it makes me feel kind of ancient,” she said, laughing.
The current school, built in 1967, will be used as an intermediate school after the new building is built. Folger said the specifics of the plan are still being ironed out.
“The community realized the buildings were in very, very bad shape,” he said.
School board president Sheila Lopez also praised the voters, who she said recognized the importance of the project.
The bond issue passed in May 2011, with 1,116 voters approving the raise in taxes and 927 turning the issue down.
“That’s just something that doesn’t happen much today, in this economy, and that shows how much faith you have in us as a community,” Lopez said to the residents.