BONAIRE, Ga. — The school worries started for people on Thompson Mill Road back in the fall.
Traffic was a big concern.
"It's a mess," said longtime resident Donald Richard. "If you don't get out (of) here before 7:00 you're going to get traffic jam all the way."
And if a rumored new school was built in the neighborhood, they worried it would only make things worse.
But in September, after a zoning notice was posted at 535 Thompson Mill Road, Houston County Board of Education spokesperson Beth McLaughlin told 13WMAZ the district was looking to build a new elementary school somewhere in Bonaire but had not finalized a site selection.
However, records that are now available appear to show they were close.
Houston County Board of Education meeting minutes from August show unanimous approval for the purchase of what the agenda called "Property B."
Another set of minutes from the Board's October 2nd meeting show "Property B"'s acreage and price were adjusted to 35.17 acres and $662,813 respectively -- the exact same figures public records show Houston County Board of Education paid (and acquired) for a piece of property at 535 Thompson Mill Road. The purchase was finalized in November.
So we can verify, the Houston County School District now owns that property.
McLaughlin confirmed via email that an elementary school would be built on the site. She said it's part of an effort to provide relief to some currently overcrowded Bonaire elementaries.
According to McLaughlin, construction will begin in June of this year and is expected to wrap up in July of 2020.
As for traffic, Houston County Director of Operations Robbie Dunbar said plans to widen the road were already in place before the board bought the property.
He said the road from the intersection of Thompson Mill and Old Highway 96 to Southfield Plantation will be expanded from 2 lanes to 3. The 3rd lane will be a center turn lane.
It will cost between $3 million and $4 million he said but should relieve some of the traffic issues.
The funding for the widening will come from the 2018 SPLOST, he said.
McLaughlin added that "the new school will have room for a minimum of 130 cars on site for the car rider drop off and pick up."
She said that will be in addition to parking spots and called it "the largest staging area of any of our schools."