Construction on Cary School District 26 transportation center could start this fall

Maplewood Transportation Center would get rid of a youth baseball field, concession stand

The long-vacant Maplewood Elementary School could be demolished as early as this fall.

Construction on an upgraded transportation facility for Cary School District 26 could begin as soon as this fall, pushing out a youth baseball and softball league that serves about 500 kids.

The proposed Maplewood Transportation Center would include 40 parking spaces for large buses, a fuel pump, and a new building and space for car parking, school staff said at a board meeting Monday.

The adjacent Maplewood school will be demolished, and the site will be filled with grass, said Greg Stahler, a principal architect with Cashman Stahler Group, the firm hired by the district.

The upgrades mean a baseball field, the Cary-Grove Youth Baseball and Softball concession stand and its storage shed would be removed, said David Shepherd, District 26 director of finance and operations.

The school board still needs to approve the project.

District 26 has tried to sell the former elementary school multiple times. Most recently, a pitch last year to create more than 250 rental units at the site fell through. The site also is within the downtown tax increment financing district passed by the Village Board last week.

The village has proposed constructing a new road – an extension of Industrial Drive, running from Cary Algonquin Road to High Road, parallel with Route 14 and south of the railroad tracks – aimed at increasing access between the area around the Maplewood property and Cary’s downtown area.

If the plan goes through, modifications may be needed for the transportation center, Shepherd said.

The school board is next set to meet Monday, and the site plan is on the agenda.

If the board approves the proposal, the district plans for construction of the transportation center and demolition of the Maplewood school to start this fall, staff said.

Cary-Grove Youth Baseball and Softball President Bob Johnson said removing the concession stand would cause the nonprofit to lose revenue, access to bathrooms and jobs for youth who run the stand.

The fields will be unusable during construction next summer and will be available by spring 2025. The Cary-Grove baseball organization may team up with Algonquin’s organization to combine tournaments during the construction, Johnson said.

The Cary-Grove Youth Baseball and Softball league concession stand will be removed for the new District 26 transportation center.

“My hope is that the goals of your current development plan can still be accomplished but in a way that lessens the impact of CGYBS,” he said to the board at Monday’s meeting.

The organization supports about 500 kids who are 5 to 18 years old, Johnson said.

“These kids are not represented by the park district or the village. They have no voice,” Johnson said. “I’m going to keep fighting.”

Johnson said the district offered him solutions that are not sustainable since the nonprofit cannot afford to build more baseball fields.

Before the current transportation center, Maplewood had seven baseball fields. After the proposed construction, they would be down to five – or four if the road extension project passes. Johnson said he remembers when all the fields would be filled with games happening simultaneously.

“The place is just jammed,” Johnson said. “And it can’t be replicated.”

Shepherd said he was excited for the progress on the transportation center.

“I know that our neighbors in that community who are tired of looking at Maplewood are thrilled that there is action in the pipeline,” he said.

District 26 plans on the transportation center serving the district for the next 50 years, including the ability to handle electric buses, a fleet of vans and other possibilities for the future, Shepherd said.

District 26 board President Deanna Darling said she remembers talking about construction for a new transportation center since 2016.

“This is something that has been put off for a long time,” she said. “We have to get it done.”

Updates on the project will be available on an FAQ page on the project on the district’s website.

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