Cardinal Newman is looking at another site for its campus

COLUMBIA — Officials at Cardinal Newman School cancelled plans to purchase property off Farrow Road in Columbia to use for a new campus. They are now looking at land near Alpine Road.

Jacqualine Kasprowski, principal at Cardinal Newman, made the announcement at a fund-raising auction March 15 and mailed letters of intent to parents.

In an interview with The Miscellany, the principal said she met with Msgr. Martin T. Laughlin, diocesan administrator, to receive approval for an option to buy the site. The school has 90 days to research the option and determine if it is a suitable location.

Kasprowski said she isn’t free to comment on the sale price being discussed. The property is owned by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.

In September 2007, Kasprowski announced that Bishop Robert J. Baker, former bishop of Charleston, had endorsed plans to purchase 25 acres near the intersection of Farrow Road and Interstate 20. The land was being developed by a Virginia-based company to include a new Cardinal Newman School as an integral part of a planned housing and business development.

Kasprowski said parents and others in the school community expressed concerns about the Farrow Road property in recent months. At the same time, she learned the site at Alpine Road was a viable alternative.

“After we took the option on the Farrow Road property, a due diligence committee studied the suitability of the location for Cardinal Newman,” she said. “We looked at many things and studied concerns that had been expressed by constituents. An engineer and an environmental safety director looked at the site, and we gathered all the information, took it into consideration and reported to Msgr. Laughlin. He looked over all the information and decided it would be good to look at another piece of property.”

The Alpine Road location is close to Interstates 77 and 20, and the rapidly growing area along Polo Road and the upscale Wildewood community. St. John Neumann School is only a few miles away.

Kasprowski said the proposal calls for Cardinal Newman to purchase 40 to 50 acres of a 117-acre tract. A surveyor would then establish the boundaries of the campus.

“We need to make sure we have adequate acreage to accomplish what we want to do,” Kasprowski said. “We want to have a self-contained campus where everything the school needs is right there — facilities for academic, spiritual and athletic activities.”

The diocese purchased 30 acres off Farrow Road in 2005 for a planned sports facility. She said there are plans to sell that land.

The principal and others in the Cardinal Newman community said one reason they want to move is a lack of growing room at the current location on Forest Drive.

Donna Watson, president of the Cardinal Newman advisory board, said she and other committee members are “thrilled” with the new site.

“It still has a presence close to the city; it’s not as far away from the city as the other piece of property we considered,” she said. “We feel we’ve answered every concern that people voiced with the other property. We are very, very excited, and judging by the reception my announcement got, I think our constituency will be as well.

“It’s in a great location, with access off and on the interstate and a great community surrounding it,” Watson continued. “It’s close to both business and residential areas. We’re outgrowing the space we have on Forest Drive, and this location is just going to meet every need we’ve had, all in one tidy little package.”

Cardinal Newman has 441 students in seventh- through 12th-grade. It originated from a school for young women which dates back to 1858.