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What do you think of the new plan for Oak Knoll School?

Original post made by Richard Hine, editor of The Almanac, on May 1, 2007

The Menlo Park City School District has proposed a new plan for Oak Knoll School that attempts to address some of the concerns of its residential neighbors. See this story: Web Link
For more information from the district's Web site, click here: Web Link
What do you think of the new plan? Please post your comments below.

Comments (5)

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Posted by oak knoll neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 1, 2007 at 8:45 am

They should split the bldgs. up like in the bond measure ballot representation and the Almanac feature article before last June election. Take Scheme B and slide the MPR over to the bball courts, which are already 3 feet below Vine, sink it down 6-10 feet, like most gymnasiums/theatres, and then it would only be about 20 feet high. Much less visual impact, more easily accessed by service vehicles from the existing parking lot off Oak Knoll Ln. Scheme B shows 140K sf of play area, 20K more than favored Scheme F which combines MPR and 10 classrooms into one mega structure and removes both the front play area and the heritage oaks. With modified Scheme B, call it Scheme "G" for Great, you preserve the front play area for the younger kids, because Scheme F forces the kids to use the same back area at lunch and the play area per child is reduced to 200 s.f. per kid, not the 500 as shown on the handout. Plus you preserve the back wing (4-5th grade) and you save on the extra $800K for more portables. Enlarge the existing staff parking in back onto the little used tennis courts, because SM Sup. Gordon says there is no cap on the number of cars allowed per the county encroachment permit

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Posted by hiker biker
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 1, 2007 at 10:07 am

After hearing the traffic engineer from Sandis aptly describe Oak Knoll Sch. as in the worst possible location to serve it's attendance area, why are they pursuing a "car-centric" plan that only further encourages kids to be driven to school from as far away as Atherton Ave. and all points west of ElCaminoReal? Favored Scheme F gets an "F", failing to fix the problem. It only indulges the gas guzzling, gross polluting SUV's and exacerbates the congestion and kid's safety in that neighborhood. Why not use some bond money resources or govt. grant money to buy a small fleet of clean fuel mini-buses and sell advertising on the buses like County Transit. Think of the V.C. and IP law firms among others that would love the exposure around town!!
"The Better Otter Way" fleet would be so "eco friendly" and so PC!!

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Posted by Oak Knoll Neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 4, 2007 at 2:35 pm

While I support improving the Oak Knoll Elementary school by modernizing the facilities, replacing the portables, and including a soccer field much needed by our community, it isn't hard to imagine how a 30 ft. building and double-wide 500 ft. long drop-off lanes are not in keeping with the character of the neighborhood and will impose unduly on neighbors. As a neighbor immediately adjacent to the school, I greatly prefer the occasional inconvenience of school traffic to the permanent addition of excessive and unsightly drop-off lanes. Yes, the Board has given adequate opportunity for public comment on the design criteria; unfortunately, this prudence has not been extended to the plan itself, which has been presented as a "fait accompli" by the Site Planning Committee.

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Posted by menlo neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2007 at 11:16 am

I have followed with, great interest, the proposed construction at Oak Knoll school. As an educator, parent of three children who attended Menlo Park school, and an active PTA member, I support the need to provide the best we can for our children of Menlo Park. I do not however believe that it is right and just to do it with so many negative impacts on the neighbors. My main concerns are: 1. the huge building that would tower over the neighbors on Oak Ave., 2 the massive drop off area for students and 3 the parking lot that backs up to the houses both on Oak and Oak Knoll. As a former PTA president, I have lobbied long and hard for bike lanes and safe healthy ways for students to get to school. We should be encouraging students to ride to school or walk in groups and to ask parents to set up cars pools if necessary. I have seen this work in other areas. I encourage the Menlo Park School board to use these changes as an opportunity to educate the students as well as parents on the need to reduce our reliance on cars and to educate them on the need to have a healty life style. I can't imagine the increase in pollution we will see as cars are backed up at the Oak Ave parking lot entrance, just as commuters are trying to pass to Sand Hill. I would rather the cars park on the street near our homes than to add more traffic turning on the street.

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Posted by Menlo Park neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 8, 2007 at 10:30 am

As a District parent and Menlo Park resident, I am following this process with concern. I am strongly in favor of Oak Knoll renovation. I am, however, strongly opposed to the current design plan, which the District seems to be pushing through with alarming speed despite strong opposition and the obvious negative effects on neighboring properties. The school claims an open process, yet the opportunity for public input to the actual site plans for Oak Knoll has been limited to only two special Board meetings. Why the closed process where it most matters?

The District seems stubbornly committed to 1) a double-wide dropoff lane exiting into a crosswalk full of children, 2) a questionable parking lot opening to a busy commute street, 3) the removal of large Heritage Oaks (trees over 50" in diameter) and 4) a 30 foot high gymnasium complex, starting 5 feet above street level and built against the property line, which will tower over neighbors who homes are only feet away.

Why the urgency? Why the the lack of creative solutions? Why does the District quote a construction time double that of other schools to justify the pace of these decisions? Why the emphasis on driving children to school, when the District asserts that most students live only 1/2 to one mile away? Why the refusal to consider bussing, when it's working well in neighboring districts?

It's time to stop and breathe. The School Board and the District should not focus their efforts on window-dressing a faulty plan. They should instead answer the hard questions, and then move on to a renovation that truly meets the longterm needs of students and the community.

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