On January 31st, 2016, the Lake Lure Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Lake Lure Classical Academy’s 10-year Master Site Plan and issued the permanent Certificate of Occupancy for the school’s main building, all steps that are necessary in order for the school to move forward with loan re-financing, as well as growing the school’s facilities to accommodate the future needs of our students and faculty, as well as the greater community.
The approved master site plan gives the school the ability to more easily work with Lake Lure town staff in getting approvals for various elements of the master plan without having to continually seek approval from Town Council. Essentially Town Council has approved each concept so that the only requirements are submittal of construction drawings and permit applications that accurately depict what the school intends to do and are in line with the concept approved by Town Council. Those plan submittals can then be quickly approved administratively by Town staff. Each project will be prioritized based on need and available funds, but have been identified by our students, faculty and staff as must-have, so great effort will be taken to successfully implement each of these elements over the next 10 years (hopefully sooner).
Already work is being done to begin implementation of the master plan. In late 2016, work began to build a much needed sports field that will be able to support multiple sports, including baseball, softball, and soccer. The field prep work has already been completed and grass is growing, giving us a playable surface in time for the 2017/18 school year. While the grading of the ballfield itself didn’t necessarily require Town Council approval, elements such as fencing, dugouts, lighting, signs and bathrooms all require zoning permits from the Town, so these elements were included in the master plan and will be constructed as funds become available.
Another immediate need for the school is storage. Approved in the master site plan are three storage units that can be used for storing bus maintenance tools and parts, excess school furniture and fixtures, and athletic equipment. The school will also be installing a fuel storage container to lower fuel costs for our buses and provide convenience in terms of our current fuel options.
School safety and security is a major objective of our school administration and board, so a Main Entrance security gate is included in the plan in order to maintain after hours control of unauthorized vehicles. Additional security fencing and gates will be installed at trailheads and where school property boundaries adjoin the Dittmer-Watts Trail Park.
Another item that we think will be not only good for our school but valuable to the community as well is an outdoor performing arts amphitheatre. This facility is included in the master site plan and would potentially include a covered stage to house lighting and sound equipment.
The school plans to address a building code issue by adding awnings at all building entrances which will protect doors from wet weather and keep those school entry ways dry. There are also plans for an outdoor classroom area which would involve installing a covered pavilion or similar structure. This idea was brought to the Facilities Committee by a member of last-year’s graduating class. The school also plans to construct some raised planter beds that can be used for agriculture and horticulture education.
Another senior project from last year that has been included in our master site plan is the addition of a solar array that will hopefully have the ability to provide some supplemental power and serve as a fantastic educational tool, promoting green energy. Some grant money has already been acquired to launch this project and some additional grant funding has been applied for, so we are hoping that this project will be implemented very quickly.
Of course, one of our greatest priorities is to construct our elusive gymnatorium, a project that has often felt like more of a pipe dream than something that would ever become a reality. Our hope and desire is to get our current loan re-financed, giving us the ability to construct this much needed structure. If the USDA loan goes through, and we are extremely hopeful, our gymnatorium will finally be a reality instead of something that we talk about occasionally, and that will be so good for our school and our community.
Lake Lure Classical Academy is so grateful to our school board, various committees, faculty, staff, students, and parents who make up our LLCA community, but we are also extremely grateful to the greater Lake Lure community who has embraced our school and made it yours. To Ron Nalley and the Town of Lake Lure staff, thanks so much for the open lines of communication and all the help you continue to provide us as questions arise. Lastly, to Mayor Bob Keith and the Lake Lure Board of Commissioners, we are so deeply appreciative for your continued support and willingness to work with our fledgling school as we make moves to ensure a bright future for our school and the Lake Lure community as a whole.
Contributed to the Breeze by Clint Calhoun