With the start of the 2019-20 school year, many motorists have made their way along East McMurray Road who hadn’t done so all that much during summer break.

What they couldn’t help but notice was the progress of what is shaping up as the new Peters Township High School, on property that once was a golf course.

From a construction standpoint, the $96 million project is targeted to wrap up in November 2020. Each month, the school board receives a report about how everything is proceeding, often hearing about minor delays and how the construction management firm and contractors are working to keep everything on schedule.

The heavy-duty logistical considerations are expected to start as the district rings in 2021.

“As the project timeline stands, we are considering a mid-year transition to the new building for staff and students,” communications coordinator Shelly Belcher said. “This is an exciting time for our district, and as we get closer to project completion, we can better determine our move-in plans.”

For now, the construction goal is to have exterior work reach a point so that by the time cold weather sets in, work can continue inside.

In the meantime, Peters residents and motorists who pass through the township can continue to get used to the change from the property’s use as a country club for the better part of seven decades.

For most of that time, it was called Rolling Hills, correlating with the topography that golfers faced as they played a challenging course. Its clubhouse served as a location for many a memorable event, from wedding receptions to charity galas to a members’ Y2K party Dec. 31, 1999.

Sixteen years later, pretty much to the day, Rolling Hills Country Club closed.

Perhaps there were signs of the coming demise the previous summer, when a North Hills Company called Infinity Homes announced it had purchased about 50 of the club’s 190 acres with the intent of building a mixed-residential development, upscale, of course.

By January 2016, developer Horizon Properties was negotiating to buy Rolling Hills, which announced its decision to close because of declining membership. The following month, Peters Township municipal and school officials sent a joint letter to the club’s chairman of the board, also expressing interest in purchasing the property.

It was sold that June to an entity called Pinehurst Land Partners LLC for $8.7 million, according to documents filed with the Washington County Recorder of Deeds. The municipality and school district filed a joint declaration of taking in September, eventually acquiring the land and splitting it in half.

While township officials still are considering how to proceed with plans to establish a municipal park on its half, the district launched right into building a new high school, authorizing a demographics study and filing documents for state funding in October 2016.

By the following summer, the Rolling Hills clubhouse had been demolished and the district was moving full speed ahead with plans for the new school, as developed by project architect Hayes Design Group and partner firm Weber Murphy Fox. Reynolds Construction LLC was approved by the school board in September 2017 as the high school’s construction manager.

In the project’s early stages, the board considered not including a competitive swimming pool as a measure to save about $5 million. Construction of a natatorium, though, received approval in May 2018.

By the start of this year, foundation work was in progress at the site, and with the arrival of structural steel in March, onlookers really started to notice the progress on the school.

And a year from now, everything should be just about ready to go for a whole new chapter in Peters Township education.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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