Despite cloudy skies and periodic rain, hundreds turned out to celebrate a public groundbreaking for the new middle and high school campus in the Southeast Hills.
Perhaps even better news came for the district with a permit OK from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The official announcement of final approval was posted by the Army Corps on Monday, Sept. 24.
School district project manager Jim Henry made the announcement at the Tuesday, Sept. 18, meeting of the school district’s board.
District Superintendent Sheila Roley thanked the public officials and contractors who “helped solve problems in a thoughtful and creative way in adjusting to the permit schedule.”
The district received and business manager Justine Hill signed the permit and mailed it back with the $10 check, Henrys said. “We are thrilled to have that behind us.”
The Army Corps’ preliminary review, delivered in April, indicated the project, designed to move endangered schools out of the tsunami zone, would adversely affect essential fish habitat.
“Approval was granted with the condition we need to finalize the stream mitigation solution on Neawanna Creek within 90 days,” Henry said Wednesday.
The district originally presented plans to the Army Corps for on-site remediation which would have resulted in the permanent placement of almost 4,800 cubic yards of soil, concrete and stone within 0.16 acre of wetland and more than 2,000 linear feet of stream considered essential fish habitat.
When the Army Corps’ failed to sign off on that plan, the district offered a “compensatory mitigation” proposal off-site to provide an environmental easement on property behind the district bus barn on U.S. Highway 101. The goal was to provide protection for waters downstream to make up for potential impacts at the new school site.
The off-site mitigation along Neawanna Creek behind the bus barn, above the high-water mark, is to improve the habitat along the creek.
“The district’s bus barn and adjacent properties to the south are on Neawanna Creek and have enough frontage that we can do vegetative cleanup there,” Henry said at an earlier meeting. “We’re working with the Necanicum Watershed Council to make sure we have the right strategy for mitigation.”
To complete the work for the Army Corps, the district will need a survey for the easement agreement, an invasive species removal plan, approved species planting plan and erosion control plan to have in place while the work is being done, Henry said.
Hoffman Construction will implement the mitigation work, both on-site and off-site. They have yet to finalize their schedule for the work.
The final building permit was submitted to the city on Sept. 28.
Bids for the next construction phases are underway, Henry added, including bids for the building’s roof, metal siding, interior and sitework.