| Trustees of the Menlo Park City School District unanimously voted Tuesday night to move forward on the design process to rebuild Hillview Middle School as a two-story complex on the school’s playfield.
Many of the 100-some-parents and community members not only showed support for this option at the meeting, but urged trustees to move as quickly as they can to build the new school.
Some neighbors of the school reiterated their concerns about increased traffic, congestion, parking, the increasing number of students on the small site, and the impact of construction and the new buildings on the livability of their properties. They also wanted to be involved in the “nuts and bolts” discussion as the plans move ahead.
“Other than using eminent domain or paying $2 million per lot, there’s no way this property is getting any bigger,” said parent Roy Sardina. “I’m begging you to build it” on the field, he said. “We’ve discussed it to death.”
“The kids already are here at Laurel and Oak Knoll (as kindergartners and first-graders), and they are going to come to the new Hillview,” said parent Shari Conrad. “The plans (for Hillview) just keep getting better and better.”
District architect Erwin Lee of Deems Lewis McKinley presented some modifications to the earlier Jan. 30 schematic option for rebuilding Hillview on the field. They included: creating a running track around the perimeter of the field; moving the basketball courts closer to Santa Cruz Avenue and using a green surface similar to tennis courts for aesthetic concerns; and realigning the exit for staff parking at the rear of the property to an exit on Santa Cruz Avenue.
Proposed two-story buildings will be located beyond an 80-foot buffer between the school property and neighbors’ property. The shadow pattern of these buildings would not exceed the buffer area.
The option to rebuild Hillview buildings at their current location and house students in portables on the playfield during construction was dismissed for several reasons: It's too expensive; it raises operational concerns during demolition of existing buildings; it would extend construction time; and it posed severe construction constraints.
While giving the design team the go-ahead, trustees also authorized continued development of educational specifications for the new campus to ensure it's meeting needs of students in the 21st century. They introduced the district’s environmental consultant Benson Vincent, who will begin the preliminary environmental study of the project.
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