Schools want a slice of Avtex

School bus facility a long-conveted need

"Anytime the three governments can get together on something, itís a good thing."

Brackenridge H. Bentley

Happy Creek District supervisor

By: Richard Nash

The Warren County Board of Supervisors said Tuesday that it will ask the Front Royal Town Council to reconsider its refusal to let the School Board build a bus maintenance facility in the parking lot of the former Avtex Fibers rayon plant on Kendrick Lane.

Happy Creek District Supervisor Brackenridge H. "Brack" Bentley said the council made a mistake in October when it rejected a joint plan by the supervisors and the School Board to build the transportation facility on five acres of the 10-acre Avtex lot.

The plan would have solved the School Boardís transportation problem and left the remaining five acres of the lot open for the town to use in any manner, he said.

"I think they showed very poor judgement to deny it so quickly," he said. "If they reconsider what they did, I think they will see that. I just want them to think it over and consider what we have to say about it."

Bentley said the council, the supervisors and the School Board should consider working together to build a transportation and maintenance facility at Avtex, which all three governing bodies could use. A joint facility would save them all money on their vehicle maintenance repair costs and foster a spirit of cooperation between the town and the county, he said.

"Anytime the three governments can get together on something, itís a good thing," he said.

The School Board has been looking for a site for its transportation facility for more that two years. Its former facility next to the boards administrative offices on Criser Road was destroyed by fire in 1997.

Several times, during the School Boardís search, county officials said they would be able to build the facility in the Avtex lot. But delays in transferring the property from a Pennsylvania bankruptcy trustee to the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority repeatedly blocked the plan.

In October, with the final transfer less than a month away, the supervisors again told the School Board it could use the Avtex lot as a site for the facility, but the council said it would not support the plan.

Vice Mayor Tony Carter said the council wants to use the Avtex lot to extend Monroe Street into Kendrick Lane and for commercial development.

"I donít see where anything has really changed since the last time this came up." Carter said. "Iím willing to listen, but unless thereís some new information Iím not aware of I donít expect things to come out any different than they did before."

The Board Chairman Robert D. Kellam said he welcomes a reconsideration of

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the Avtex Plan. He has always wanted to build the facility at Avtex and is happy to know the plan is not dead, he said.

"Thatís where Iíve wanted it to go from the beginning," he said. "I had no idea this was coming, but I support it."

South River District School Board representative Linda A. Poe said going back to the Avtex plan wonít solve anyoneís problems and will further delay the boardís efforts to build the facility. The board should build a facility on the site where the old one stood, she said.

"Weíve never moved forward when the Board of Supervisors got involved," she said. "Itís time for us to finally give up on Avtex and build this facility on the only site we know is available right now: Criser Road. The Avtex proposition has never helped us. It has only pushed us backward.