split log middle school site plan

At Tuesday night’s Planning Commission meeting, city officials voted unanimously to approve a proposed site plan for Split Log Middle School. However, not before a thorough discussion of the potential risks of construction blasting at the site.

The new middle school will be constructed on the same campus as the existing Jordan Elementary School with a building footprint of 102,292 square feet. According to the online agenda, the architecture of the new building will complement the style of Jordan Elementary and new lanes will be constructed to serve the new school.

Eric Gardner, the Director of Facilities and Construction for Williamson County Schools, along with representatives from Huddleston Steel Engineering, Inc., attended the Tuesday night meeting to seek approval and answer any questions from commission members as well as Brentwood citizens.

After briefly discussing details of the site plan, including stormwater requirements, traffic flow logistics, and the reconfiguring of sports fields, the floor was opened up for questions. Immediately, the issue of blasting was brought up.

“So we have several projects right now that are under construction that are on campus where safety is very, very high on our priority list,” Gardner said of blasting worries. “As far as the students at the elementary school, we will have the construction zone fenced off so there should not be anybody that’s not an authorized personnel…no one should be allowed in the construction zone.” He added, “As far as protection during blasting…we follow all of the state blasting requirements.”

Planning Commission member John Vitucci asked, “Do you schedule the blasting after school gets out or while the kids are in school? It could be done after school right?”

Another member, Carole Crigger, chimed in, “So it’s not during the school hours?”

Gardner explained that he is not in charge of scheduling the blasting and that it really depends on what the contractor’s schedule is. He added, “We have to work with the principals and the teachers there…and our neighbors, too.”

“Can you specify you want the blasting done after 3:00 p.m. though with your contractor?” Vitucci asked.

Gardner said yes.

Commission member Mark Gorman commented, “If you would please not shoot rock while the kids are trying to learn… You know I’ve heard about all these things that are important for kids learning and all of that, but I have to believe that shooting dynamite during school is not conducive to learning.”

Gardner reassured those inquiring that as the director, he works with the contractor to ensure that they pick the optimal time for the schools as well as residents in close proximity to the blast zone.

Commission member Chris Clark said, “Do you understand we’re taking this as a commitment from you not to blast while there are kids on the property? That’s a commitment you gave us, that’s a solid commitment.”

“We work with schools… Their interests are in our best interests also,” Gardner replied. 

Rounding out the discussion, commission member Janet Donahue asked, “I know that we couldn’t make an amendment about the pre-inspection for the Concord Road neighbors, but is there an amendment that we can put into our approval suggesting… requiring the timing of the blasting? It seems to be a lot of the commissioners are concerned about that.” 

City Manager, Kirk Bednar, said, “As I’ve said, blasting is regulated by the state. You cannot put additional restrictions on blasting activity.” He added, “The applicant and the property owner can hear what you say and hopefully will abide by it, and again, they’ve got just as much interest in the adjoining users as anybody else does.”

In October of 2021, the Williamson County Commission approved $2.1 million to begin the initial design and construction of the middle school and it is expected to open in the fall of 2024.