The Capital School District submitted a final site plan for the new Dover High School and it was approved by the City of Dover in January 2012.
In April, Dr. Michael Thomas, superintendent of the Capital School District informed Ann Marie Townshend, director of planning for the City of Dover, that the district was looking at making a change to their site plan
“I notified Ann Marie Townshend back in April that EDis, our construction manager, was saying that it may or may not be feasible to build the east entrance due to cost,” he said. “EDiS has been evaluating the bids that are coming in to see if there is funding.”
The east entrance was slated to be a private road, used at the discretion of the school, according to Thomas. The road was also set to be one of the last items completed because it is not necessary to open the school, Thomas said.
The east entrance, however, was only ever presented as a definite occurrence and not a possibility, said Townshend.
“That may be how they planned it from a cost side,” Townshend said. “But it was never articulated during any of the approval processes that this was a potential east entrance. It was to be construed.”
Funding issues arose around the east entrance after the Delaware Department of Transportation informed the district that the west entrance would need to be constructed to state standards, which came at a higher expense, Thomas said.
The west entrance cost $2.96 million to put in place. Once the school is operational, the road will be turned back over to DelDOT and will become a public road, according to Thomas.
Townshend made it clear that, regardless of the district’s decision, time is of the essence. In a letter that she wrote to Thomas dated Aug. 15, Townshend reminded him of proper procedure.
“The applicant was previously advised that in the event that major changes and revisions to the plan occur…the changes may require resubmittal for review,” Townshend wrote. “The new Dover High School site must comply with the Site Development Master Plan before a certificate of occupancy can be issued for the school.”
A certificate of occupancy is the official document form the city that certifies that a building is up to code and ready to be put to use. The district was initially hoping to receive its Certificate of Occupancy by April or May, Townshend said.
“If there are changes, they need to be reviewed as soon as possible because that’s not simply a procedural thing,” Townshend said. “Changes will be subject to public hearing and the planning commission will take into account public comment and input from review agencies and government agencies involved.”
Page 2 of 2 - Townshend also expressed concern regarding safety and traffic flow if the entrance were to be cut. In the original site plan the east entrance would provide a separate route for buses, Townshed said. That left teachers, student drivers and parents their own entrance. If the east entrance is eliminated, all traffic will flow through the west entrance.
Thomas doesn’t view one entrance as a problem.
“The west entrance is designed to accommodate all of the buses,” Thomas said. “It is a huge road. It can accommodate all traffic, cars and buses coming into the school; that’s how it was designed.”
Eliminating the east entrance would also mean that in the event of an emergency, first responders would have to drive a bit over a half mile further down the road to gain access to the school, Townshend said. In the event that an accident occurred on an athletic field, emergency personnel would then have to loop around the school and travel back to the east side of the property, making nearly a complete loop, she added.
But Thomas said he feels eliminating the east entrance wouldn’t pose a threat to safety.
“Look at the current Dover High school. Right now if a child was to get hurt on an athletic field look at how far an ambulance has to go to get back in there,” Thomas said.
No decision on whether or not the road will be completed has been made yet. Thomas expects that EDiS will be prepared to make a presentation to the Capital School District Board of Education regarding the entrance at the board’s meeting on Wednesday.