9th Avenue to be extended for new Foley Elementary School

By Jessica Vaughn / jessica@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 8/16/17

FOLEY – Foley will have a brand new elementary school for the 2019 year, and along with it an extension to 9th Avenue.

The Foley council had plans to extend 9th Avenue during the 2019 fiscal …

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9th Avenue to be extended for new Foley Elementary School

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FOLEY – Foley will have a brand new elementary school for the 2019 year, and along with it an extension to 9th Avenue.

The Foley council had plans to extend 9th Avenue during the 2019 fiscal year in place, and the need for the extension has been on their radar for a while. However, recently an opportunity presented itself that’s too good to pass up.

“The School Board announced where they are going to build new additions and what they will be building, and we’re on their list to add a building here in Foley,” said Wayne Trawick, Foley Council President. “9th Avenue would be important to them in getting traffic in and out of the new building.”

Currently, Foley has a placeholder for the 9th Avenue extension in the long-term capital plan, a plan that includes going after a grant in order to complete the work. The downside to this route would be that certain grant programs may not be available in 2019, and the prospect of working with the School Board to place the new school in the ideal location would be past.

“In a perfect world, the School Board is looking to have the facility open in the fall of 2019,” Mayor John Koniar said. “If they get approval.”

This would coincide with the fiscal budget for the year 2019, giving Foley an even further advantage in this development. While the council is prepared to work with the School Board, the obstacle left to them is that of the 9th Avenue extension, as it effects the exact location and access to the new building.

“The dilemma we have right now is the School Board needs to know if we intend to put that road in,” Trawick said. “They’ve got to orient the drawings on possibly facing the building to the south, towards 9th Avenue, or they’re going to have to face it towards the existing buildings, which effects their drainage and entrance. We need to figure it out and give them an answer.”

As the southwestern area of Foley continues to grow, the extension would not only be beneficial to the school, but also to the residents and businesses near the location.

Due to the timing on the project, with the construction not beginning until early next year, the council believes that it gives their workers enough time to extend 9th Avenue and allow the school to face the street, giving them easier access as well as better drainage. Also in the council’s favor, the estimates for extending the road now as opposed to later are in the same range as the proposed plans, so the cost will not be an issue.

City Administer Mike Thompson is currently working on a letter to the School Board from the Foley council indicating their willingness to accelerate their 9th Avenue project.

“As you know this project from the School Board is part of their 60-million-dollar deal,” said Thompson. “What we’re looking at is these projects being done together, because obviously you need a road to go to any building that we build.”

“It would be a good infrastructure addition to the southwest quadrant,” said councilman Ralph Hellmich. “It gives you a new way to go through a more residential area by going down Hickory Street and cutting over once the new road is there. I think it’d be a big addition.”

Once the School Board receives the letter indicating the council’s agreeance to accelerate the 9th Avenue extension, it will just be a matter of working out the timing between the two projects to make sure they coincide.

“It’s something we’ve been looking to do anyway, and we’re in a position to accelerate the timeline,” said councilman Charlie Ebert III. “It’s really going to help out that quadrant of town, and it supports the county school system and helps with the overcrowding at the current Foley Elementary.”

The School Board is looking to greenlight the project during December 2017 or January 2018, and completion of the new elementary school is slated for March 2019. This will allow students to attend the brand-new Foley K-6 Elementary School beginning in the 2019 school year, which will drastically reduce the overcrowding at the current Foley Elementary School.