Tournament Hills Parking Project...Just Get It Done!

The school board held a workshop last night regarding the Tournament Hills parking project. They were presented more options by the architect for the design and it appears the board is leaning towards a new option which lowers the project’s construction cost to about $300k. The district’s architect, for an additional cost, will be reengineer the plans and bring them back to the next board meeting. Then the district will submit the plans to the state for their DSA approval, more additional fees. So the latest update is… still no project has final approval from the board and construction will not be starting anytime soon.

Some other interesting notes…

The new proposed plan will use an existing entrance and the new 60+ staff only spaces will require teachers driving through a gate to the new spaces that will take them across an existing popular pedestrian access.

But they have a plan…

 Teachers will be required to show up by their contract negotiated time of 7:20 and then the gate will be closed and pedestrians, our kids, will not have to worry about the traffic. So, students begin arriving at the school at 7:00; for 20 minutes the gate will be open while teachers arrive and closed at 7:20;  then school starts at 7:30. Am I the only one who sees a problem here?

Also…

Board member Wayne Hackney pointed to one large safety issue concern - parents parking across the street from the school and then crossing the street, and median, through oncoming traffic - there are no crosswalks available. None of the new proposals, or previous proposals, addresses this or any of the congested traffic patterns. Additional spaces will improve the parking situation around the school throughout the day but most parents aren’t interested in parking when they are picking up or dropping off. Parents only park across the street to avoid running the gauntlet through the parking lots.

Construction costs vs. total costs…

None of the new plans or the previous plans address the traffic patterns or the issue of families crossing the street but, this new plan saves the district $40k in construction cost. However, increases in fees for redesign and re-approval from the state, means the total cost savings will be less than $40k. Too often we focus on construction costs when we should be watching total cost. For example, most people don’t know the true cost of the new sports complex. All of us, me included, have been focused on the $15 million figure; this is the construction cost. Measure Z reports I found on the district’s website puts the total cost at almost $20 million. If the construction cost of the new district office is around $12 million, this would put total cost for the Taj Mahal around $15 million. Since the district avoids transparency when it comes to the new office building, these are just my estimates.

I wonder…

How much we could have saved on the construction of the new district office if our board was as concerned with managing costs as they are when it comes to the Tournament Hills  parking lot. Again we heard form some board members suggesting the traffic safety issues around our schools are primarily the fault of parents not following the proper procedures and they suggested holding workshops for parents. Will every parent attend? Probably not. How about grandparents and other family members who only occasionally pick up kids? Not likely.

In my opinion…

Parents needed to be involved during the planning stages of a project that is so important to the safety of our kids, truly involved not just informed. Any plan approved should address the traffic patterns and all the safety issues, especially ones that are clearly identifiable by board members. Any plan should be made idiot proof, one path possible. This means parents would have no reason to even consider taking any direction or action except for the safest route. It seems there is no price too high for the district’s new office building but the safety around our schools need cost micro-managing.

It’s time for a change. Just get it done!