Two Gainesville elected groups met Monday night to discuss some major projects in the city.
The Gainesville City Council and school board held a joint meeting, and one of the primary topics of discussion was construction at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy.
The school system has plans to construct an entirely new school on the current Enota site, and the project is tentatively slated to begin when the current school year ends. Superintendent Wanda Creel brought up concerns of how the school might be affected by a proposed new bypass behind the school, which would connect Enota Avenue to South Enota Drive.
Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said the road is by no means official or planned, and it is being proposed as a result of a traffic study.
“This thing is proposed to alleviate some of the traffic on Green Street, because — and this is a problem you all are having — the growth we’re having is causing terrible traffic problems,” he said. “I can assure you the city council would not do anything to jeopardize the school or hurt the school or the children.”
Adrian Niles, director of maintenance and operations for Gainesville school system, said the concerns about the bypass include how much school property it will take up and if the new, larger road will confuse visitors about which side of the building is the front.
“We want to make sure as we put a new building up that the road doesn’t come too much on our property and take playground space,” he said.
Creel said the system is looking at designs for the school that would allow both the front and the back of the school to “look like a front.”
But the system is also concerned about retaining the school environment.
“It really is considered a walk-to-school sort of neighborhood school,” Creel said.
Councilman Sam Couvillon said regardless, the project is an uncertainty, but a solution to the traffic problems in the area is necessary.
“We’re in a tough spot, in that we’re asked to come up with solutions, and then when we go forward with trying to find a solution — and I’m not saying it is a solution, but it is a possibility,” Couvillon said. “We can sit on our hands and not do anything, but then we’ll be in the same boat.”
Creel thanked the council for their help with the passage of the special purpose local option sales tax for education, which funds capital projects including school construction, last November. She and Delores Diaz, school board chair, also thanked the council for joining the school board for the meeting.
Diaz said the joint meeting was the first of what she hoped will be regular or periodic meetings, and a motion was made and approved by both the school board and the city council to meet twice a year, or more often as needed.
“We have similar goals and challenges, and we need to work together to help solve them for the benefit of the citizens of Gainesville,” Diaz said.