For the first time in more than 30 years, Apex is getting ready for a new high school.
Town council voted unanimously last week to approve site plans for West Apex High School. The 112-acre piece of land on Humie Olive Road also will eventually include a middle and elementary school.
Both Wake County Public School System and town officials said the new school, which is scheduled to open in 2015, is a much needed addition to Apex.
A great deal of future growth is predicted for the area and Apex High is already badly overcrowded. The 32-year-old school was built for 1,200 students but currently has more than 2,500.
“It is due time for a new high school,” said Attorney Kenneth Haywood, who represented WCPSS during the quasi-judicial hearing. “We have the support of the community, neighbors and (town) staff. We have something everyone can put their hands around and can be excited about.”
Apex High Principal Matt Wight told council that his school has 14 trailers and three modulars on campus to deal with the overflow of students.
“When I came to Apex High four years ago there were 2,215 students,” said Wight. “Today, we have 2,584 students. We are severely overcrowded.”
Increased traffic around the proposed 2,350-student school was the biggest concern for Apex’s elected officials.
A traffic study showed the school is expected to generate 1,143 inbound trips during the morning peak hours and 812 outbound trips in the afternoon.
“There will be long delays typical of schools,” said town traffic engineer Russell Dalton. But he added those delays would only last 15 to 20 minutes and not overlap regular traffic rush times.
Councilman Bill Jensen said he was concerned about the alignment of the roads leading to and from the school.
Dalton said that if any serious safety issues arose, NC Department of Transportation would make improvements.
Councilman Gene Schulze brought up his concerns about parking several times during the meeting. He stressed that he did not want students or visitors parking along Humie Olive Road or on private property, especially during sporting events.
“If you can tell me that you can contain everyone (on the campus) during a football game then I am satisfied,” said Schulze. “If you can’t, then I’m not satisfied.”
School planner and former town council member Christine Hilt said the school would have adequate parking. She said there would be 556 parking spaces for students, 273 for staff and 20 for visitors. Another 60 spaces would become available during special events for a total of 909 spaces.
Once the elementary and middle schools were built, added Hilt, the campus would have nearly 1,200 parking spaces.
“The school system does not want parking on Humie Olive Road or the properties across the street,” said Hilt.
In the end, town officials praised the site plan and expressed their eagerness for a new high school in Apex.
“(The planners) have done a lot of good things to offset problems experienced at Apex High School,” said Councilman Terry Rowe. “They did a good job working with neighbors and I commend them for that.”
“This has been a long time coming,” said Mayor Keith Weatherly. “I think citizens will be well served. I hope we won’t have any roadblocks.”
Construction is set to begin in 2013.