By Rachel Estes for Yuma Sun
Somerton High School is beginning to take shape, at least conceptually, as the Yuma Union High School District governing board voted to award a design contract to DLR Group in the amount of $223,573 to launch the first five percent of the design programming needed to procure building permits and phase into construction once state funding is obtained.
Over the next four months, according to DLR Group senior architect Carmen Wyckoff, the agency will “plan, listen, explore and conceptualize,” taking care to hear feedback from prospective students currently attending Kofa and San Luis High Schools and district teachers on “what they face and what could make their lives better at Somerton.”
This development phase is intended to not only address current needs but needs anticipated over the next 30 to 40 years, such as new growth and spacing.
“We want to plan it out so that we have a roadmap, and then when you get funding, you can take and figure out how much of that roadmap fits with the funding,” Wyckoff said. “So you have a gameplan from now for the foreseeable future.”
And as the City of Somerton is preparing to move forward with its Cesar Chavez Avenue improvement project, it’s advantageous for the high school’s design team to mobilize now to coordinate with the city on particulars like driveways and utilities so that these things will not need to be altered when construction of the school commences.
“We’ve got a really great site, and it’s really ready to move forward,” said Bill Lukehart, principal project director for Arcadis, who is also a key partner in the project.
Ultimately, funding for the project will be determined by the Arizona School Facilities Board.
Said Lukehart, “The perfect scenario is the SFB acknowledges the need of the project and makes a recommendation to (the) legislature to fund it. Those are hugely important funding pieces of the puzzle.”
Following the SFB recommendation and legislative approval for state funding, the district will then need to establish an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Somerton to address synergies like the sharing of athletic fields, stormwater management, lighting and parking. The district and city will also need to establish an infrastructure development agreement, which will outline the City of Somerton’s requirements for obtaining a building permit and, in turn, what YUHSD is required to provide in order to secure that permit and begin the project.
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