New Catholic high school delayed

rpulley@lsjournal.comAugust 26, 2014 

Because of construction hurdles, a new Catholic high school in Lee’s Summit won’t open until at least January 2016.

The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph plans to build St. Michael the Archangel High School near Lee’s Summit and Strother roads, south of Lee’s Summit Airport. The previous target for opening the school was the fall of 2015.

Steve Hilliard, diocesan director of strategic planning, said the plan was to complete some construction this fall while good weather could be expected, but because of delays in getting approvals, construction would run the “risk of running into weather like last winter.”

He said that on a project of this size and having to coordinate with road construction and extending utilities, delays aren’t uncommon.

“We can’t say we’re surprised,” Hilliard said.

He said the project’s architects and the city have been working together to solve problems.

Councilman Rob Binney asked Mark Dunning, director of the city’s development center, for a progress report at the Aug. 21 council meeting because he’d received questions.

Dunning said the problems include a delay in reconstructing Lee’s Summit Road, where the school is planning its main entrance and with providing utilities such as sewer service and water.

Mike Weisenborn, the project manager for the city, said the 80-acre tract is in both Kansas City and Lee’s Summit.

The section of Lee’s Summit Road for the entrance is under jurisdiction of Kansas City and that city is struggling with acquiring right of way for the road, he said. The school also needs a letter from Kansas City approving the storm drainage for its entrance at Lee’s Summit Road.

Those snags are slowing the review process for parts of the project in Lee’s Summit, Weisenborn said.

The development plan for the school is to be heard by the council in September.

The city staff will be recommending approval with some stipulations, he said, but the timing of building permits to start construction is uncertain.

The city is working on an agreement for the school to pay for its share of utility improvements, with the city paying to upsize the lines for future development.

“We have to know sanitary sewers will be available,” Weisenborn said. “We’re doing what we can to move them along.”

The diocese’s plan calls for a school with a capacity to serve 500 to 700 students. The first phase of construction would hold 500 to 550 students.

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