The Concerns Regarding the Location of The New School of Valle Crucis

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The group called Residents and Friends of Historic Valle Crucis, North Carolina has launched a website and petition where they express their concerns on how the location chosen for the new school can impact the community and tourists in several ways.

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Valle Crucis is North Carolina’s first official State Rural Historic District, as designated by the North Carolina State Legislature, and the entire community of Valle Crucis is officially listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, as designated by the United States Department of the Interior. This small, western North Carolina valley community of under 1000 residents is located in the Boone, Banner Elk and Blowing Rock area. Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, the valley is described as a rolling bucolic landscape and is home to many historic buildings. Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors come to this one-of-a-kind village to admire the scenic beauty, to enjoy the outdoor recreation, and to visit the well-preserved historic buildings.

In 2017, a facility study recommended a complete replacement of Valle Crucis Elementary School. The current school buildings are dating back to 1935 and have an aging infrastructure that constantly needs to be repaired due to damage done by frequent flooding. It would be ideal if the site for the new school would be less impacted by flooding, provide expanded capacity for the increasing school population, and solve the problem of the increasing school traffic along the main community road.

The new school is estimated to cost $35 million and the Watauga Board Of Education and County Commissioners decided to purchase the Hodges Property for $1,105,000. Everyone agrees that a new school is necessary for Valle Crucis, but where to put the new school and how the new location will impact the amazing landscape of the community is a complex matter.

According to Residents and Friends of Historic Valle Crucis, "The new location proposed by the Board of Education and County Commissioners has raised some concerns. 90% of the purchased property is within a floodplain and borders the Watauga River. This property also has access to the main road through this mountain village. The price paid for the Hodges site is much higher than expected given surrounding values. Some concerns have also been raised when the Board of Commissioners submitted an application to amend the Valle Crucis historic district ordinance to treat the school the same as a bonafide farm, exempting it from the building and performance standards required by the ordinance. However, a school impacts the surrounding environment in different ways than a farm.

Building the new school at the gateway to Valle Crucis Rural Historic District might not be the best decision, as long as numerous alternatives do exist and there are better for students, parents, teachers, staff, residents, and The Valle Crucis Historic District. The new school can impact the surrounding farms, residences, vacation rental properties, institutions, and businesses in several different ways and the Valle Crucis community is interested in how the Board of Education and County Officials will solve the issues.

Some of these issues are the noises caused by arriving and departing school buses; the sound of the arrival and departing of teachers through the day; air condition and heating noises; waste treatment equipment noise; the destruction of natural open space, micro-environment, and first impressions at the entrance of The Valle Crucis Historic District; asphalt and cement paving over nature; air pollution from the cars, buses, and trucks idling in the area; heat pollution from cars, school equipment, from the asphalt and cement required for the school; septic and wastewater related issues; increased water runoff due to pavement, buildings and playground; the economic impact that will be done to tourism and business due to altering the surrounding landscape that draws interest to the area; and other issues. "

Residents and Friends of Historic Valle Crucis, North Carolina is asking the county officials to reconsider building the new school on a floodplain and along the main road. This group is optimistic and they hope that the officials will choose another site that will ensure the historic character, residents, and businesses of Valle Crucis remain unharmed.

The group Residents and Friends of Historic Valle Crucis, North Carolina has launched a petition where they express the concerns surrounding the site of the new school buildings. Also, this petition is asking the officials to perform economic and environmental impact analyses in order to understand the impact of a new school at the proposed location. Since launching the petition, hundreds of residents have signed it to show their concern over the new location of the school. In a community that draws so much value from its landscape of historical, cultural, and natural distinction, this group believes that the proposal of building a new school on the chosen location warrants a closer look.

The 140 public comments received via the petition each include the zip-code and place of residence as reference. Over 300 of the petitions are from Residents of Valle Crucis & Watauga County. Quite the feat for a mountain village of under a thousand residents.

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