ERWIN — Nearly three months after the Unicoi County Board of Education voted to permanently shut down Love Chapel Elementary School due to sinkhole concerns, construction necessary to provide the school’s students and staff with a place of their own is now under way.
Work to implement the school system’s long-term Love Chapel relocation plan began on property adjacent to Unicoi County Intermediate School on Friday. Up first will be the site work, which Unicoi County Director of Schools Denise Brown previously said will include utilities, decking, moving of soil and the installation of draining and piping.
On April 22, the school board approved a $736,300 bid from J.E. Green Co. to complete the site work. At that meeting, Tony Street with Beeson, Lusk & Street, the architectural firm that will oversee the construction, said he would like to see site work completed by mid-June.
The following night, the board approved a bid from Georgia-based M Space Holdings for the modular classroom units. The 12 modulars will be leased for three years for a total cost of around $1.2 million.
Each of the modulars will measure around 28 feet by 68 feet and has the space to contain two classrooms. Each classroom will have a handicapped-accessible toilet, drinking fountains, heating and air conditioning. Three of the 12 modulars will serve as Love Chapel’s computer lab/media center, administrative offices and dining area.
Street said previously that he hopes to see the modular units installed by the third week of June, after which crews would complete other work at the site. School officials have stated the desire to have the modulars ready for Love Chapel students by the start of the 2013-14 school year in early August.
“We would like to have this to you all by mid-July, somewhere around the 15th to the 20th,” Street said to the board previously. “Then that gives you enough time, hopefully, to get moved in.”
A large sinkhole was discovered on near Love Chapel on Aug. 18, and a short-term relocation that saw students and staff relocated to available space inside the Intermediate School and Unicoi County Middle School was implemented Aug. 27. That plan will remain in effect through the end of this school year.
On Feb. 14, the Board of Education voted to permanently close the school after receiving an engineer’s report that indicated several areas on the school property either showed signs of sinkhole activity or signs of developing sinkhole activity. One month later, the board approved a relocation plan by which the modular classroom units would be leased and set up on property next to Unicoi County Intermediate School for Love Chapel students and staff.