Wildcreek Report: No Reason Not to Build High School at Golf Course

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One of seven proposed designs for Wildcreek High School.
One of seven proposed design scenarios for Wildcreek High School.

A report released Monday on the Wildcreek Golf Course showed it would be a suitable location for the Washoe County School District to build a high school.

The report from Wood Rodgers, a surveying and engineering firm, showed seven different configurations of how a 75-acre high school campus could fit onto the Wildcreek property.

The preliminary appraisal for that acreage done by Johnson Perkins Griffin Real Estate Appraisers and Consultants came in between $1.5 million and $1.875 million. The $375,000 range would depend on which part of the property the district purchased.

The 212-acre Wildcreek public course at 3500 Sullivan Lane in Sparks is currently run by the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority and owned by Washoe County. It has an 18-hole, par-72 course and a 9-hole, par-27 course on site and is operating at a loss of $270,000 annually.

The school district spent about $200,000 to conduct due diligence on the Wildcreek property. This included surveys, traffic studies, environmental assessments, and addressing issues with the Federal Aviation Administration, among other things.

Wood Rodgers and Traffic Works LLC are scheduled to present findings to the district’s board of trustees next week. The board will then vote on whether to enter into negotiations to buy the land. If approved, the final land transaction would occur this summer.

“We really didn’t find anything that would be a deal stopper,” said Andrew Durling, Wood Rodgers planning director. “The soils are indicative to other developments in the area. Water, sewer, electric, and gas are right at the front door.”

Wildcreek Golf Course
Wildcreek Golf Course, Image: Carla O’Day

Durling said there’s good access to the property, although extra turn lanes and traffic signals would be necessary to accommodate the more than 4,000 trips the school would generate daily. Such components are “nothing out of the ordinary” and details would depend on where on the property the school was being built, he said.

Although the project would be on the flight path to Reno-Tahoe International Airport, the school has 200 feet of clearance above the ground and it’s not in a noise abatement area. Durling said low trespass lights that point downward could be used on athletic fields.

The 2,500-seat school at Wildcreek would replace Hug High School, which was built in the late 1960s and serves about 1,450 students. Plans are to close Hug at the end of the 2020-21 school year and send most of its students to the new school at Wildcreek, located about two miles to the east. It would also draw from Sparks, Reed, and Spanish Springs high schools.

Hug would then reopen as a career and technical academy in fall 2022.

Pete Etchart, district operations director, said the overall cost to build the new high school hasn’t been determined. But if he were to estimate, it would be $170 million to $190 million—not the $300 million to $400 million sometimes mentioned by naysayers.

“We’re quite a ways away from that right now,” Etchart said. “We haven’t started to design the school yet.”

The average cost of building a new high school was estimated last year at about $110 million but it’s more costly to build on existing-use property than on previously unused suburban land, district officials have said. Labor shortages could also be a factor.

Funds for school construction to alleviate crowding are coming from the November 2016 0.54 percent voter-approved sales tax increase. Such dollars can go only toward construction of and refurbishing of facilities. This money cannot be used for teacher or administrator salaries or other school operations.

WHAT’S NEXT?

  • Nov. 28: Due diligence and appraisal report to be presented to Washoe County School District trustees at 2 p.m. at district headquarters, 425 E. Ninth St.
  • Nov. 30: Town hall meeting regarding proposal to build new high school at 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at Hug High School, 2880 Sutro St.
  • Dec. 12: RSCVA and Washoe County Commissioners joint meeting at 8:30 a.m. at the County Commission Chambers, 1001 E. Ninth St., Building A.

INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN: http://www.wcsdbuilding.com/wildcreek/

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Carla O'Day
About Carla O'Day 280 Articles

Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.