Last May, the Moore County Board of Education (MCBOE) was briefed on the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) intent to purchase property along State Route 211 through West End for the widening of the roadway from two lanes to a four-lane divided highway between State Route 73 to Holly Grove School Road, according to a news release issued by the Moore County Board of Education.
This includes taking property immediately in front of and adjacent to West End Elementary School. Construction is estimated to begin soon with the removal of trees and relocation of utilities.
The current school is 137 feet from the existing roadway with a split-rail fence, trees and landscaping protecting the school and enhancing its appeal. Once the road is widened, it will be only 98 feet from the brick building, less than 80 feet from the covered entrance and sidewalk. The Board of Education considers the proximity of the new roadway to be a safety concern for the school’s students and staff.
In addition, the NCDOT has offered only $180,000 for the property. Based upon the current market environment, this purchase price does not represent an adequate value for the property, nor does it consider student and school safety concerns such as protective barriers needed for the school.
In negotiations with the NCDOT over the purchase of the property, the MCBOE requested that NCDOT consider the following:
*To cover the cost of a barrier to help mitigate traffic and safety concerns as well as noise from the roadway;
*To cover the cost of relocating two modular units at the front of the school to a quieter location;
*To cover the actual cost of replacing the school’s monument sign and flagpole that will be removed by NCDOT; and
*To value the property to be consistent with the appraised market value of other properties along State Route 211 purchased by NCDOT.
The NCDOT declined to accommodate these requests and began condemnation proceedings effective August 1. Under condemnation laws, the property at the front of the school is now owned by the state. The MCBOE has the right to contest the value of the property.
The MCBOE will continue negotiating with the Department of Transportation for adequate compensation for the full value of the property summarily taken by the state, and for the cost of providing appropriate noise-reducing safety and aesthetic barriers to protect the school and those it serves. MCBOE will continue to keep the school community informed as they try to get the NCDOT to more adequately and properly address these concerns.