There is no graceful solution to the Oak Knoll School Problem. A campus which was originally set aside to provide for 200+ students is now asked to service over 700. The community approved a bond measure for improvements. The question now is how best to use that money and improve the facility. Since April I have attended 3 meetings on the redesign of the Oak Knoll Site.The plan presented in April included a large multipurpose room out of scale with the neighborhood, a new parking lot accessed from Oak Avenue which required cutting down heritage oak trees, and airport inspired drop-off lanes off Oak Knoll to try and alleviated street traffic. Over the months neighborhood pressure has managed to reduce the visual impact of the large multipurpose building, to save the smaller of the two heritage oak trees, and to lessen the appearance of the drop-off lanes. To me these are cosmetic concessions. The basic plan and placement of buildings has not changed.
So what is conceptually wrong with this plan. First, the play field used by the younger children is gone, traffic is being dumped out onto a busy street, and more of an inadequate piece of land is asphalted over and dedicated to vehicle traffic. The 400 year old heritage oak by virtue of its inconvenient position is history.
In the morning and afternoon, when school is taking in and letting out, the neighborhood traffic is horrendous- for about a half hour each time. Parents park a couple of blocks away to bring their children to school. The proposed solution, however, of drop-off lanes in the new plan cannot begin to handle the volume of cars. Soon some parents will be tired of sitting in a line of idling cars and will return to the previous solution of parking a block or two away and walking. In the meantime a playing field is gone and lanes of asphalt remain. As for the increased traffic on Oak Avenue, the planners do not admit to the full use of the new parking lot. How do delivery trucks get to the new multipurpose building with its stage and cafeteria? Where is the refuse located? We are told these are incidentals yet to be addressed. These points are not minor and for me it is like designing a garden, planting it, and then deciding how one is going to add a sprinkler system to water the plants.
The present general conformation of the school ground works for the neighborhood. Both fields, one for the younger children off Oak Knoll, and the back one for the older students are used heavily and simultaneously outside of school hours. Traffic is a problem which will only be eliminated when the facility at Oak Knoll is supplemented as originally intended by another campus. I urge more consideration be given to the real use of the property before more effort and money is put into a flawed design.