RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- UPDATE 9/21/18: The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest says it will convey about 51.49 acres of National Forest System (NFS) land to the Washoe County School District (WCSD) to build the Arrowcreek Middle School.
“This acquisition was made possible by the Education Land Grant Act, which allows up to 80 acres of NFS land to be conveyed to a public school district for educational purposes,” says Forest Supervisor Bill Dunkelberger.
In conjunction with this announcement, USFS published the final Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), and Environmental Assessment (EA). USFS says this decision completes the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for this project.
“Throughout the NEPA process, the Forest involved members of the public, local residents, interested parties, state and local government agencies, and interested Tribes,” adds Dunkelberger.
The land being used is on the Carson Ranger District in southwest Reno, at the intersection of Thomas Creek Road and Arrowcreek Parkway. Although it is NFS land, it is fully surrounded by private land in a neighborhood.
The ELGA (114 Stat. 368; 16 U.S.C. 479a) allows the Forest to consider selling land for educational needs at a nominal cost, when land is needed for educational purposes, but little private land is available in the area at a reasonable cost. The act requires:
1. A determination that the conveyance is in the public interest;
2. The land to be conveyed is not needed for other NFS purposes;
3. The land to be conveyed has been identified as available for disposal in the land and resource management plan;
4. The conveyance would serve public objectives that outweigh the objectives and values that would be served by maintaining the land in federal ownership; and
5. The total acreage to be conveyed is the minimum amount reasonably necessary for the intended purpose and does not exceed 80 acres.
“ELGA enabled us to convey an isolated, difficult to manage parcel of NFS land to the school district for the greater good of the growing Reno community,” says Dunkelberger.
UPDATE 9/18/18: The Washoe County Board of Commissioners has unanimously voted to approve a special use permit for site work on the future new middle school in the Arrowcreek area.
The Washoe County School District (WCSD) is going through final stages of acquiring land from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). WCSD had put in the permit the ability to move quickly on building the school as soon as USFS transfers the land.
The school is a specific part of WCSD's identified projects on the WC1 2016 ballot question.
“We are grateful to all of the community members who made their voices heard on this issue, and to the Washoe County Commissioners for their unanimous vote today that supports our ability to open a new middle school in Arrowcreek,” says WCSD Board of Trustees President Katy Simon Holland. “We hope to have this school open for the start of school in 2020, and their actions today continue to keep that hope alive.
“This school is badly needed to address overcrowding across not only south Reno, but also schools all the way up to I-80. This school, like the other middle schools under construction, will have a profound effect on thousands of students and families, and we are grateful to the commissioners for their support. We are also grateful to the voters of Washoe County whose decision to support WC-1 in 2016 made the construction of new schools possible.”
The district says the opening of the school could affect about 10,000 students through rezoning and the movement of sixth grade classes from elementary schools to the middle school level.
ORIGINAL STORY: The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Washoe County School District (WCSD) held a town hall meeting regarding the proposed construction of a middle school at Arrowcreek in South Reno Thursday evening.
It was a packed room at Hunsberger Elementary School with majority of the people in favor of building a new school. Those against the proposed project say if the school is built, their property value could go down and current roads are not equipped to handle more cars.
Supporters say the new middle school is needed to help with the overcrowding happening at other middle schools around town.
Due to an objection to the project, the USFS delayed the land transfer another 30 days, and by law was required to hold another public meeting with WCSD.
Due to overcrowding across the district, WCSD wants to build a middle school that holds 1,400 students near the intersection of Thomas Creek Road and Arrowcreek Parkway.
Thursday’s meeting was likely the last for the public to share its thoughts on the proposed project before the USFS makes its decision on whether to transfer the land to WCSD for the school.
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
Attn: Dave Drake
1200 Franklin Way
Sparks, NV 89431
To read the full environmental assessment, click here.
Comments are due by August 31, 2018.