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Woodsdale Elementary School’s Parking Request Passes With Flying Colors

Photo by Derek Redd Wheeling Police Officer Bryan Wilson directs traffic around Woodsdale Elementary School on Thursday as students dismiss for the day. The school received a variance from the Wheeling Zoning Board to add six new parking spaces to counteract the spaces that will be lost to upcoming school renovations.

WHEELING — The Wheeling Board of Zoning Appeals gave their approval Thursday to six new parking spaces being set in front of Woodsdale Elementary School along U.S. 88.

The requests for three separate variances pertaining to the parking spots breezed through the committee following a short presentation by school district representatives, and no one spoke out against their proposals.

City laws do not permit parking in front of structures in historical districts such as Woodsdale.

Board chairman Ron Sinclair and member Robert Felton approved the first variance to allow parking in front of the school, the second to eliminate the landscaping requirements for a parking area, and a third reducing the front yard setback requirements from 20-feet to no setback.

Board member Jason Smith was not present.

The school district has plans to place six parking spots between the highway and the loading zone, including two handicapped spaces and four regular spots for visitors.

Thomas Wippenbeck, regional manager of architectural services with McKinley and Associates, explained the parking spaces are part of a $5.4 million renovation project happening at the school. Interior spaces and walls are being realigned, and the cafeteria is being extended out on the playground side.

The project would make the school ADA compliant in the front, and there would be spots established for visitor parking, he said.

“It does look like you have no place to park there,” Sinclair said.

Felton asked if there was a timeline for the project.

Wippenbeck told them contracts were presently out to bid, and were expected to be awarded Nov. 4. Contractors will start demolition during the Christmas break, with students in affected sections returning to makeshift classrooms in the media center.

“Just being a neighborhood school, parking is slim to none to begin with,” Principal Ashlea Minch told the board. “So for us to get those extra six spots would be not only a good thing for the community, but for the school and our handicapped accessibility.”

Ohio County Schools Director of Operations David Crumm added the parking area also would give the school district a place to park maintenance trucks when work is needed at the school.

The variance granted is good for up to 18 months, and work must be started by then, Sinclair said. Wippenbeck said the entire school renovation project is expected to be completed by January 2022.

Grassy areas to the left and right of the bus circle entrance and exit will not be affected, and will remain in place.

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