District looks to improve traffic flow, accessibility
By Elise Franco
A $100,000 land purchase is meant to expand the Austintown Local School District’s campus and help ease traffic flow and road access.
Superintendent Vincent Colaluca said the school board voted Monday to purchase two residential properties — 4746 Woodhurst Ave. and 1185 Idaho Road — that likely will be used in part for a road-widening project on Idaho.
“When we look at the overall campus, there’s a definite need for road access,” he said. “We’re trying to make the campus more accessible off Idaho for drivers.”
In May, a 2.9-mill bond issue was approved by voters, securing the $27 million needed to fund the district’s portion of a $50 million school-construction project through the Ohio School Facilities Commission.
The plan will unify the district into one central campus on property near Watson Elementary and Frank Ohl Intermediate schools, Colaluca said. The two schools will house students in kindergarten through second grade and third to fifth grades, respectively.
Colaluca said the newly acquired properties cost about $50,000 each, and the money spent is from the district’s capital-improvement fund.
“We’re using capital-improvement money that the district has been saving over the years,” he said. “It’s been set aside for those types of improvements.”
Dr. David Ritchie, board president, said changes in traffic flow once the new buildings are erected proves a need for more land and wider roads.
“We feel that we need to have the traffic patterns changed somewhat,” he said. “We want to try to get Idaho Road widened to four lanes from the corner of Woodhurst Avenue and Bexley Drive down to the end of our property near Westchester Drive.”
Ritchie said the district is working with the township to apply for a grant that would cover the cost of that project.
Colaluca said the school district closed on the Woodhurst home, which was in foreclosure, Tuesday and is awaiting word on when the sale of the Idaho property can be finalized.
He said the Idaho Road property is a short sale, meaning the market price is less than what is still owed on the property.
“Fortunately for the district, we were able to look at the properties at a reasonable price because they’re short sale or foreclosure,” Colaluca said. “Any time you’re in a situation like that, though, there’s a lot of red-tape process to go through.”