Northwest Allen County Schools picks site for new elementary; ground could be broken this fall

Northwest Allen County School's newest facility will be near Bethel and Hathaway roads. (Courtesy illustration)
Chris Himsel,

Northwest Allen County Schools has selected a site off Hathaway Road between Bethel Road and Indiana 3 as the site of its eighth elementary school. The school will be the first capital project funded through a referendum approved by voters in May that cannot exceed $33.98 million.

The approximately 98-acre property on the north side of Hathaway will house the new school on the far west end closest to Bethel while leaving room for future facilities if necessary. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2019, and conclude in the summer of 2020 prior to the start of the school year.

“We are very appreciative of having a community member willing to work with us to find common ground on a mutually agreeable price,” Superintendent Chris Himsel said in a statement. “This individual (the seller) is as mindful of taxpayer dollars being maximized as the school district is, so this project is more than a transaction, it’s clearly a commitment to future generations.”

The school district may pay up to the average of two appraisals for land, according to state law. However, the final cost for the property was $1.4 million which was less than the average appraisal.

“The opportunity to acquire a piece of property of this size provides NACS with multiple options as we consider potential growth scenarios,” NACS Board President Kent Somers stated. “While this property was not our first choice, this location’s proximity to both middle schools and centralized within the district’s growth is definitely a positive.”

Next steps include a title search, legal description and other filings for completing the process. While the new school is being modeled after Eel River and Cedar Canyons elementary schools, plans are being refined for this particular property with tweaks provided by staff who work in the existing structures. Barton Coe Vilamaa is the architect and managing the engineering for the project.

NACS will complete design plans while also preparing the area to quickly break ground. Bids for construction are expected to be due in October, and weather permitting ground may be broken by late fall or early winter.