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Lincoln Co. School Districts gets $3 Million check from FEMA to flatten Waldport High after students move into new one on the hill

Waldport High School
To be converted to community open space

Lincoln County School District (LCSD) has been awarded $3 million in federal funding for a project designed to reduce the loss of lives and property destruction in the event of a tsunami or other catastrophic flooding at the site of the existing Waldport High School.

The Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires FEMA purchase all structures and development rights on the WHS campus. In turn, the school district will demolish and remove the school buildings, portable classrooms, and grandstands; restore the 11.47-acre site into open space; and maintain the property in perpetuity with no future development other than open space.

“When we learned about this grant, we thought it could be of great benefit to both the school district and the community,” said LCSD Support Services Director Rich Belloni. “We can potentially turn the high school property into a space for community use without spending district funds, and we won’t have an empty school to maintain, which can be very expensive.”

Waldport High School is located just a few feet above sea level in a tsunami inundation zone and the floodplain of the Alsea River, and it was largely constructed prior to the adoption of seismic building codes. Thus, it is vulnerable to both major flooding and significant structural damage in case of earthquake or tsunami.

Under the mitigation project, building demolition and site restoration will begin after construction is completed on the new Waldport High School. The new high school is being built on high ground outside the tsunami zone, using current building codes, adjacent to Crestview Heights School; it is scheduled for completion in August 2013.

The estimated cost to demolish and dispose of the high school structures is between $350,000 and $750,000; this range is broad because the extent of asbestos abatement is not known. There will be additional costs associated with the project in order to restore the land into a basic open space use. Any remaining monies will go to the school district’s Building Maintenance Fund, which supports school facilities throughout Lincoln County.

LCSD Safety Coordinator Sue Graves wrote this comprehensive grant proposal, which was submitted in November 2011.

School district officials will collaborate with the city of Waldport and its citizens to help determine a suitable open space use for the property. As defined by FEMA, open space can include such uses as outdoor recreational activities, wetlands management, nature reserves, camping, cultivation, and grazing. No new structures can be built on the property except ones that are open on all sides and functionally related to its open-space use; a public restroom; or ones that conserve the natural function of the floodplain.

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