The traffic planning around the Taj Mahal, Beaumont Unified School District’s new district office, also known as the Educational Support Facility, was briefly discussed in the August 23rd school board meeting. The Taj Mahal will be built directly across from Brookside Elementary on Brookside Ave, next to the new stadium and therefore will add to the current traffic problems on Brookside. The traffic planning discussion was cut short by Board President Mrs. Lara when she told her fellow board members that the issue on the agenda was the approval of the next phase of the contract, not the parking and traffic.
The district has already spent $1.6 million on the Taj Mahal and needed board authorization to enter the next phase of the contract. Each dollar of our kids’ resources that is spent on this project, makes it that much more difficult to change course or redesign the plans. Wouldn’t it make sense to plan for the traffic and parking before approving the next phase of a $12.4 million contract? Hasn’t the city and school district been pointing fingers at each other’s poor planning as excuses for the current traffic problems? Why isn’t anyone interested in involving the public in the discussion? Haven’t these people learned anything?
Before the discussion was cut off, Mr. Orozco and Mrs. Poulter asked many important questions and Mrs. De Longchamp indicated she and Mr. Hackney had been involved in planning discussions with the city. While we didn’t hear much from Mr. Hackney, Mrs. De Longchamp proved to be knowledgeable about the city’s plans to develop Brookside Ave in front of the new district office.
Mr. Orozco expressed concern over the new parking for the Taj Mahal and the stadium. He wanted to know if the new parking would be available for the parents of Brookside Elementary students. And, if it wil be, what is the plan to make it safely accessible for them. Mrs. De Longchamp said the plan is to only allow crossing of Brookside Ave at the crosswalks at Beaumont Ave and Oak View. Mr. Orozco said it doesn’t matter what the plan is, parents and students will still try and cross Brookside and we need to take that into consideration.
Dr. Kayrell explained some of the challenges the district is facing surrounding the new building projects and traffic. He explained that some of the Taj Mahal property is located in the City of Beaumont but a portion of it is in the City of Calimesa. This means the county has jurisdiction and is involved in the planning. This makes the process that much more complex. Dr. Kayrell told the board he will continue to meet with city and county representatives.
After all the frustration expressed by members of our community last time I raised the traffic issues, one would think our City Council and School Board would have learned something. When will they see the benefit of community participation and a little transparency? If we standby and allow these projects to be constructed without thorough planning, we lose credibility to complain two years from now when we are all still stuck in traffic.