Frustration builds as new Hanahan school site debated

By Nikki Gaskins

HANAHAN, S.C. (WCIV) School leaders, Hanahan city officials and homeowners debated the location of a new elementary school in Berkeley County Tuesday night at Hanahan City Hall.

The new school will be built for the Tanner Plantation/Foster Creek Road area. The big mystery remains where exactly it will be built.

District leaders with the Berkeley County School Board want the new elementary school built along Bowen Village, which is located at the very end of Foster Creek Road.

However, Hanahan city leaders aren't sure if that's the best location. They want to consider not only the Bowen site as a location but also property along Williams Lane and the Charleston Water Site.

The new school is meant to alleviate overcrowding at Hanahan Elementary and Goose Creek Primary, two schools district leaders say are "bursting at the seams" with students.

"We have over a thousand children at Goose Creek Primary and Hanahan Elementary and that's way too many children," said Amy Kovach, the communications director for the school district.

School officials say the new school will be able to accommodate 900 students.

Voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum to build the new school in November 2012. At Tuesday's meeting, homeowners voiced their frustrations with the school's location still being undecided.

"I feel like I walked into a power struggle between the city council and the board of education," said Bill Lewis, a Hanahan homeowner.

Others who call Williams Lane home say they fear the city may prefer that location for the new school.

"I'm for education, but we don't want the traffic coming through Williams Lane because that's our home," said one lady who lives in that area.

In order for the school district to build on Bowen Village, the city would have to rezone the property from multifamily use to commercial.

So far, the city is in no rush to make a decision.

"We must find solution to make sure that we do what is right," said Mayor Minnie Newman-Caldwell.

District leaders hope to have the new school open in August 2015. However, if zoning reclassification isn't approved, district leaders say the project would be delayed indefinitely.

"We need a school now and the more we fight, and the more we list 'what about this' it's just not going to happen," said homeowner Christie Rainwater.

On Thursday, the school district will host another public hearing on the school's possible location.{} Homeowners are encouraged to attend and voice their opinion.

The meeting will take place at Goose Creek Primary at 6 p.m.