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A bump in the road: CCA road and trail project stalls over misinterpretation

OXFORD — Shawn Lueth and Jon Fitch of Shive-Hattery presented a preliminary proposal for throughways at the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Tiffin campus during the regular monthly meeting on Dec. 16.
However, it was neither what Board President Tim Hennes wanted, nor had expected.
During the November meeting, the board agreed to allow Shive-Hattery to formulate a proposal for the often-discussed inter-campus road and trail for the Tiffin campus. The action came following a special meeting with the mayor of Tiffin regarding the Ireland Avenue project. At the time, Mayor Royce Phillips indicated the City Council had not approved anything, and said work on Ireland would be contingent on finding funding.
The CCA Board then authorized Superintendent Paula Vincent to work with Shive-Hattery on the development of a concept plan for the roadway and trail system. Hennes wanted the design phase started quickly so that bids could be made, with the work being completed over the summer.
At the December meeting, Lueth and civil engineer Jon Fitch presented a comprehensive, long-range vision of the campus complete with a number of new roads, trails, relocated entrances, and even a new and softball and baseball complex, which Fitch described as “controversial.”
“This is a preliminary, long-range plan,” Fitch said, looking at a three to five year range. Regarding Ireland Avenue, Fitch said, engineers are still trying to obtain electronic documents pertaining to the design and final location.
Fitch listed a variety of projects that could be accomplished within the next several years, including: various “looped” roads; a bus barn; the baseball and softball complex; increased parking; and the potential for relocating the entrance to the middle school, which was a topic discussed during the November meeting. Fitch also hinted toward eventual expansion of the middle school building.
“The project that we’ve been told to start proceeding with is this loop drive,” he said, pointing to the diagram, “and then we’ll start looking at the projections of what will be happening with Ireland.” Finally, he said, they would look at a road that loops around Echo.
“We’ve got a lot to look at and a short amount of time to do it,” Fitch said. The goal is to get the roads designed, and bids out to contractors for consideration by the middle of February. Construction would then begin in April or May to be ready by the beginning of the school year.
Vice President Betsy Momany expressed some confusion about the presentation.
“I’m lost as to what we (the board) have been talking about and what is sitting here.”
Hennes agreed.
“I didn’t think we’d employed you to do the long range site plan; it was more or less to design a road over to Ireland Avenue with the proposed Ireland Avenue design.” Hennes added, “I didn’t think our scope of work with you was to go that far.”
Superintendent Vincent explained the plan, suggesting the other elements had probably been asked for, or about, at some point. She also looked at the major expense of putting in a road, coupled with the need to serve the campus as intended, without being in the way of future needs or expansions.
Momany said she understood Vincent’s point, but expressed her frustration with the process.
“You’re saying, where else could we put the road and, quite frankly, I’m not sure where else we could put the road. The road has to go where it’s going to go, and it can only end where it’s ending right now,” she said.
Hennes also reminded the audience that the Ireland Avenue project will not impact the baseball field, contrary to speculation, rumor and the Shive-Hattery presentation. He also told Fitch and Lueth, “The scope was to design us a road to Ireland Avenue, and a link up to the West Campus.”
“It’s a road, it’s a trail, it’s a connecting link to our West Campus,” he emphasized several times, noting the location of it has not changed over several preliminary plans. Hennes asked if time could be spent designing the road and getting specifications out for bid, rather than having an additional meeting.
“That road has always been in the same location,” Hennes said. “Let’s get the ball rolling.”
“The ball is rolling,” Lueth responded. He explained how they still need information from the city.
“We spend so much time on facilities stuff,” Momany lamented, “I’d really like to focus on curriculum.”
Proposals for the road/trail should be available for presentation and action at the January meeting.