Reynoldsburg school board member Jim Slonaker raised questions last week about whether the district should partner with the city, Etna Township, Licking County and landowners in trying to obtain state money to rebuild Summit Road.

Reynoldsburg school board member Jim Slonaker raised questions last week about whether the district should partner with the city, Etna Township, Licking County and landowners in trying to obtain state money to rebuild Summit Road.

Jim Miller, the city's director of engineering, presented details about proposals to improve the road at the board's regular meeting Sept. 16. The district plans to build a new elementary and high school there by fall of 2010.

A "letter of intent" signed by Superintendent Steve Dackin was included in Reynoldsburg's application for Ohio Public Works Commission money to pay for about 75 percent of the $6.1-million needed to reconstruct Summit Road. Similar letters from the city, the township, Licking County and the landowners were also submitted with the OPWC application.

These other participants in the application would be responsible for the remaining 25 percent of total project costs.

The district's share would be $230,000, according to Miller. The city would pay $825,132; Etna Township would pay $270,000; Licking County would pay $176,145 and the property owners would pay $120,000.

The school board would not vote to actually appropriate the money until and unless the OPWC application is approved. Miller said that decision should be made by the end of the year.

He said it is important to have participants in grant applications for a project such as this, especially when schools are involved, because it improves the application's score and therefore its chances of being approved by the OPWC.

"This is a public improvement project that benefits a host of people -- the city, the school, the township, everybody benefits," Miller said. "And partnering with the schools and providing benefits for the school within the grant application scores a lot of points with the OPWC."

Slonaker said he was concerned about trying to explain to residents why tax money that was approved to construct schools would be used to build "infrastructure for the city roads."

"I don't look at it as spending money for the city," Miller said. "I look at this as a pro-active effort to shortcut problems that the schools will experience on the road if no improvements are taken."

He said the city wants to do everything possible to provide safe access to the schools that will be built on Summit, but the road project is too large for the city to do without the "financial assistance and partnership of the schools."

"I hear you talk about partnership on this," Slonaker said. "Can you explain what you're doing there that is going to improve the education of our children? The reason I ask is our money, typically, never has gone to build roads, so I'm curious how that works."

Miller said he views the reconstruction as something that would make Summit Road safer for anyone who has to get to and from the new schools.

"I look at these improvements benefiting the education of your students by not creating unsafe conditions for the environment in which they are learning," he said. "I am not familiar with the total overall plans for your site, but athletic events, school plays, productions, things like that which will be generating traffic, it will make it safe to get from point A to point B."

Slonaker then asked Miller about his suggestion that a traffic signal will be needed at the entrance of the new school site. He noted the district applied for a traffic light at the entrance to Waggoner Road Junior High but did not get one.

"Do you anticipate more traffic on Summit Road than what is on Waggoner?" Slonaker said.

"No, however the traffic signal warrant analysis not only looks at the traffic on the main road but also on the intersecting street," Miller said. "Here, (on Summit Road) you'll have an intersecting street that will be generating more intersecting traffic than what you would have, say, on Waggoner. My preliminary traffic estimates and those of our engineers at EMH&T suggest that in the future, a traffic signal will be warranted there."

dowen@thisweeknews.com