THS Bus Garage Set for Completion in June

THS Bus Garage Set for Completion in June


By Lily Franks

There’s an eye-catching new development at the foot of the Talawanda High School grounds. Upon returning to school in August, students most likely took notice to the large, fenced off piece of land that can be seen out the left window on their morning drives to school. The recent project in question is a new bus garage under construction; an endeavor that raises the question: why?

According to Treasurer Shaunna Tafelski, the project is a solution to an ongoing issue that the district has been dealing with since the construction of the current high school in 2012. “In all of the prior conversations, it was TSD’s intent to participate in the BCRTA transportation hub that will break ground shortly on Chestnut St”, Tafelski said. But when costs exceeded what had been originally proposed, the district eventually made the choice to construct their own. 

As of fall 2012, the district had been leasing its current bussing facility from Miami University. FQAs released by Talawanda School District said this partnership “[saved] the district considerably throughout the years” at a cost of only $1 per year. 

However, with the construction of the Butler County Regional Transit Authority Hub (BCRTA) on the grounds of the current facility, the district was left without an alternative within its boundaries. As of September, funding was approved for the hub, which is proposed to open between 2023 and 2024 and will feature Amtrak access, transfer bays for buses, bike storage, and more.

When asked about the pros of the upcoming garage, the Treasurer cited maintenance and office space.  “Our facilities and bussing departments not only need an area to work out of (minimal office space), but the buses need a space where they can be repaired and maintained, as well as, parked/stored after making the daily rounds of picking up students,” Tafelski said. “Our facilities also needed an area to store maintenance materials for building repairs, store salt for winter conditions and store and repair our trucks and lawn equipment”. 

Tafelski also addressed queries regarding traffic, environmental concerns, and Talawnada’s home cross country course. She explained that the construction itself was not expected to “affect traffic in any adverse way”, and that because buses would depart from and return to THS before and after morning “rush hour”, their new location would not pose new problems. In terms of afternoon traffic, Tafelski said, rather than coming and going “the buses will only need to depart, hopefully loosening up any potential bottleneck that you might be seeing now”.

In regards to the cross country course, which the construction site currently disrupts, Tafelski said the district is “still working through [it]”, but “[feels] that it will not adversely affect/interfere with any cross country events, current and future”. 

In addition to uncertainty about disruptions to the cross country course, such construction projects can raise concerns about disruptions to ecosystems. Sara Morris, a biology teacher at THS, said that when plots of land are developed, “it not only kills or displaces animals and plants that exist on that land, but it also affects the areas around where the development takes place”. Tafelski said an environmental survey had been completed “when the high school was being built, from 2008-2012”. 

The district’s FQAs also answered concerns over projected costs. Refuting worries that the project would cost the district up to $15 million, TSD said, “As it is contracted and projected it will cost the district $4.1 million dollars”. 

The finished garage is expected to provide 7,400 square feet of usable work space with dimensions of 151’ x 52’. Tafelski said staff, students, and parents could expect its completion by June 15th, 2023.