Wake's new high school site causes stir with neighbors
Posted October 8, 2009 7:00 a.m. EDT
Updated October 8, 2009 9:17 a.m. EDT
Wake Forest, N.C. — The proposed site of what will be Wake County's largest high school has caused a stir with some neighbors who say they are concerned about traffic and the impact on their community.
Plans call for Forest Ridge High School to be built at 2628 Forestville Road near Rolesville and hold more than 2,200 students.
Chesterfield Village residents say the current proposal will increase traffic, disturb their quality of life and cause property values to drop.
"This is an established residential neighborhood," according to a report written by the group. "Any school entrance to our community by such a huge, multi school complex will forever change the character of this quiet neighborhood."
The quiet, wooded area is what drew Dan Haberek and his family to the area.
“I invested into a neighborhood for my family, and it’s going to get destroyed when I have constant traffic from an institution,” he said.
Haberek is part of a group called Concerned Citizens of Chesterfield Village who say they're upset that Wake County Public Schools is planning to tear down trees in their neighborhood and build a driveway to the new Forest Ridge High School.
“And they will have 1,500 trips a day coming through our development,” he said.
The development is 25 years old and has no curbs, sidewalks, gutters, shoulders or streetlights. Residents say the narrow roads can’t handle the school’s traffic.
“This is not a main artery. This is a side street,” Haberek said.
Wake schools' Chief of Operations Don Haydon said the current site fits all criteria and was approved for purchase last October. The school system looked at more than 30 sites before settling on the current one, he said.
Along with other criteria, sites need to be 65 to 70 acres to be suitable for a new high school. Finding that kind of land can be tough, Haydon said.
"Our staff is working with county staff and DOT staff to look at all options for access to the school. We want to avoid any negative impact on the neighborhood and our neighbors," he said.
Chesterfield Village residents said they have proposed alternate traffic routes and an alternate site, which is 3 miles away. Their proposed property was supposed to be for a private school, but it fell through. The land is now for sale.
Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles said Wake schools should build its new high school there since it has direct access to main roads.
“The other site (will need) $1.4 million in road improvements. This would not even require that,” Eagles said.
Haydon said his staff is looking into the site and others and that they're also studying other traffic routes. Chesterfield Village group members said they've been talking with school officials for months and have seen no progress.
“We were looking for better solutions. Instead, they’re pushing forward,” Haberek said.
Wake school officials said going with another site could delay the opening of the high school by at least a year. That would delay any overcrowding relief at other high schools. Construction on Forest Ridge High could begin next summer.