Pick a plan

Five options examined for future of Maryville High School

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By Lance Coleman
Blount Today

Maybe the architects proposing plans for Maryville High School’s future should have skipped "E" because their "surprise" fifth option appeared to get an "F" from neighbors of the Lawrence Avenue school during a combined work session of the
Maryville School Board and the Maryville City Council on June 14.

"Looks like your living room is going to be a tennis court," one resident commented to his neighbor as they left the room.

Four preliminary plans for a new or a renovated Maryville High School had been presented to the planning commission earlier, and architect Darrell Johnson and Barry Brooke, project manager with Lawler-Wood, presented those plans and cost estimates, plus a fifth plan at a joint meeting of the school board and city council. While the meeting was a public gathering, it wasn’t a meeting designed for public input, but was instead a time for city council and school board members to see the proposals and the cost estimates.

The audience was polite, attentive and thoughtful. But the fifth plan had several murmuring in the standing room only crowd at the Ruby Tuesday Room inside Maryville High School. This plan called for expanding the campus south of Lawrence Avenue, which would requiring purchasing homes and property between the school and Mountain View Avenue.

"The purpose of the meeting tonight is to get the options on the table. We want everyone to have a pretty good understanding of the options," school board member Mark Cate said. "The day is coming, and I promise you there will be plenty of opportunities for public comment," he told the crowd. "This is a crucial juncture for our school as we look toward the future and growth."

Cate said the board hopes to have more detailed drawings by mid-July and public meetings in late July or early August. The city administration is going to look at doing more analysis of growth, and the school administration is continuing to look at enrollment projections, he said.

Growth projections show there were 1,543 students at the school in 2006-07. In 2025-27, about 2,400 students are expected to be enrolled at the school, Cate said.

Johnson and Brooke showed the five plans, gave the cost estimates and explained the advantages and disadvantages of each plan. Johnson said the plans were based on eight months of work. In all the schemes, they tried to keep core curriculum classes clustered together, sports facilities together and administrative facilities in one place.

n Option A called for a new, second high school for 1,500 students.

"It would be, for example, a Maryville East and a Maryville West," Johnson said. "We would renovate this existing building and bring this school up to be more student-friendly."

Johnson said the new school would have 80 classrooms and a gym to seats 3,000; an auxiliary gym and a 10,000 square foot, two-story library. The new high school would accommodate growth through 2035. Cost estimate for Option A is $77,365,000, Brooke said.

"It really doesn’t impact (existing) neighborhoods, but there is an increase in operating costs," Johnson said. "We have found though there is a strong sentiment in this community against two schools. It’s an intangible, but it’s worth noting."

n Option B called for a new high school on a new site to replace the current high school. It would hold 2,200 students, have 116 rooms with a 4,000 person gym and an 800 person auditorium. Johnson said this site is larger because the facility is bigger and parking area greater. Cost estimate for Option B is $95,349,400, Brooke said.

Johnson said the advantage of this plan is everything is located on one campus, and it could be wired for today’s needs. A disadvantage of this plan is the "cultural institution and heritage that is Maryville High School," he said of moving from the current campus.

n Option C called for renovating and adding onto the existing school for a capacity of 1,700 students, building a new middle school and renovating the existing middle school for a second Maryville High School campus holding 800 students. It would accommodate projected growth through 2028. It would involve taking property east of the current science wing to build an adjacent two-story wing, building a new central office at the intersection of Cunningham Street and taking property to extend Lawrence Avenue over to White Avenue. There would be a 4,000 seat gym, 800 seat auditorium with a Black Box theater and two-story library. "It would be an arena-type gym," Johnson said. "You would go in and go down."

Brooke said this plan would cost $108,885,000. The advantage of this plan is a new middle school is built, but the disadvantage is additional property would be required, and it requires shuttling students between campuses.

  • Option D called for the same renovations to the existing high school but without remodeling the middle school. Instead of a two-story wing, there would be a three story wing built adjacent to the current science wing. This plan would accommodate growth through 2022. This plan would cost $71,532,712, Brooke said.

Johnson said the plan also requires additional property be purchased. "That site is somewhat limited by what you can do downtown," he said.

  • Option E, a plan only recently created, would build a new high school downtown south of Lawrence Avenue and would accommodate between 2,200 and 3,000 students. The plan would take the entire remaining block between Lawrence Avenue and Mountain. View Avenue and Cunningham Street and Cedar. Land acquisition would cost about $7.5 million and total cost of the project would run $77,502,150, Brooke said.

Johnson said this would accommodate growth through 2022 and the advantage of this option is everything would be on one site, but the disadvantage is it would require additional property. "The impact to the neighborhood would be significant, and you could have additional traffic," he said.

There was no shortage of comments after the meeting from neighbors who live near the school. Some supported building off site and others thought renovating the existing building or constructing a brand new downtown campus was a good idea.
Lauri MacKenzie, Cedar Street, said she has lived near the school for years. "I don’t want to leave it because of parking," she said.

Catherine Frye said there are better options than building a new campus downtown or renovating the new school. "If you do a second school, it takes you to 2035. You expand here, and it takes people’s homes."

Building a brand new school is what needs to be considered, Frye said. "Maryville High School is not where the school is located," she said. "It’s what it represents, and the people who go to it."

Adam Helton said many residents in the neighborhood have lived there 30, 40 or 50 years. "Our biggest concern is how it’s going to affect those who live around here," he said.

Mike Dalton, director of schools for the City of Maryville, said the concept of building a new facility on a new site is exciting, but planners would need to put it where growth was going to occur. "Expanding on the current site is desirable from the traditional and historic standpoint," he said. "I think we have to look at the costs. We have to question whether that’s a wise move."

To submit comments about the proposals, email correspondence to mcs@ci.maryville.tn.us.

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