New Glarus School Board Again Proposes Entrance to Primary School Site at 8th St./11th Ave.
October 13, 2022
In April 2021, New Glarus School District residents approved a referendum to build a 4K-2 Primary School by more than 70%. The Primary School would be built on 45 acres of land owned by the school district on the village’s southwest side. The New Glarus School Board and staff have been working with village staff to finalize site plans for the new school. However, site access points remain an unresolved issue.
The original plan, which was included in all referendum materials prior to the election, incorporated a private drive with entrances/exits at the end of 10th Avenue and at the corner of 8th Street/11th Avenue. Due to Village ordinances, this connection required permission from the Village Board because the private driveway would connect at a village intersection. Despite meeting all safety requirements and receiving a recommendation for approval from the Village Engineer, the Village Board denied the request for a driveway connection.
The Village Board directed the school district to consider alternatives to the second access point proposed for 8th Street/11th Avenue. Village Board members stated that 8th Street/11th Avenue might not be the ideal location for a road, and they requested the school district explore access along Legler Valley Road or Windlach Street.
The school district advised Village staff that its engineering experts had concerns that neither access would be safe due to sight lines, existing road slope, and other issues. Nonetheless, as requested, the school district conducted additional due diligence regarding both options. Both options were ultimately deemed unsafe by traffic and safety experts in detailed reports. Regarding Legler Valley Road, the District utilized the services of Traffic Analysis and Design, Inc. (TADI) to conduct an Intersection Sight Distance Analysis at multiple points along Legler Valley Road. The 36-page document thoroughly analyzes the possibility of having an intersection at Legler Valley Road, and concludes the following:
“Based on the sight distance analysis completed as part of this study and the safety of the driving public, it is recommended to not have a school access driveway onto Legler Valley Road.”
Regarding Windlach, the new road would need to be located very close to the intersection of Windlach Street and 12th Avenue. Locating the second access point along Windlach would not comply with Village ordinances, nor safety standards for a public road, because of how close it would be to the Windlach Street/12th Avenue intersection. Whether an access road at Windlach is a private driveway or a public road, it will function similarly to a public road during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up. Therefore, for safety reasons, the school district and our experts believe any proposed connection to Windlach should meet village ordinances as if it is a public street. Additionally, there are significant sight line concerns at Windlach Street which would impact the safety of our students, their families, and school visitors.
Finally, the school district explored the possibility of having only one access point at 10th Avenue. However, emergency services concluded it would be unsafe to have only one access point to the school.
Based on all of the expert analysis and guidance, the New Glarus School Board and District Administration determined the only safe second entry could be at 8th Street/11th Avenue. Therefore, the District now proposes to build a public road extension of 11th Avenue, at our own cost, which would be given to the Village. This intersection meets all state and village safety requirements for a public road. This new public road would be engineered to turn into a cul-de-sac, providing a connection to the school’s private drive. The drive would go past the school and connect at 10th Avenue in alignment with the referendum plan approved by the voters. This plan is expected to be discussed by the New Glarus Village Planning Committee on October 20, 2022, at 6:30 p.m.
The New Glarus School Board and District Administration are working hard to complete planning for the new 4K-2 Primary School and to obtain necessary village and state approvals. Timing is important because we would like to bid the new 4K-2 Primary School construction project yet this December and break ground next spring. We are hopeful the Village Plan Commission, Village Board of Trustees, and school district residents will understand the School District explored all options, as requested, and in good faith, and that the safest two entrances/exits to the new Primary School are at the originally proposed 8th Street/11th Avenue intersection and 10th Avenue entrance/exit points. We encourage the public to attend upcoming meetings or reach out to the Village Plan Commission and Village Board to express support.
Dr. Jennifer Thayer, New Glarus Superintendent and Bill Oemichen, New Glarus School Board President