Environment

At a Tuesday night work session for the Jefferson County Public Schools Board, architects presented their vision for a proposed middle school located on a plateau above the Floyds Fork Watershed — habitat critical to the least spoiled waterway left in Jefferson County.

JCPS is in the process of finalizing details on the purchase of 40 acres of land to build a middle school beside Parklands of Floyds Fork.

Officials say schools in the area are already overcrowded and a new middle school is necessary to accommodate growth.

Environmentalists say the proposed site is too close to a confluence of two streams, jeopardizing the health of the local ecosystem and the integrity of the Floyd’s Fork, which runs through nearly 4,000 acres of the Parklands.

At Tuesday’s night’s meeting, Architect Colin Drake said his firm’s design would minimize disturbance in the area to preserve the landscape.

“And so the first responsibility we have is to do no harm to this site,” Drake said. “I mean, this is a very precious piece of land sitting right across from the Parklands park.”

The 1,000 student school would feature three, two-story pavilions built on a plateau above the streams. Drake said they designed a more compact footprint, and would attempt to preserve as much tree canopy as possible.

“So we’re basically going to be able to nestle this building into those existing trees at the head of these streams that will descend into the valley,” he said.

Engineer David Mindel said they would build the necessary fences and basins to prevent sediment and pollutants from running off into the watershed.

“We have to follow the [Metropolitan Sewer Department] criteria. We’ve done it many times and we’ll do it on this one too,” Mindel said.

JCPS Acting COO Glenn Baete said both the board of education and the Kentucky Department of Education would have to sign off on the contract, before going to Louisville Metro Planning and Zoning for approval.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.