It has been a while since we’ve had a substantive update on the Pleasantdale Elementary School, and as it stands right now, there still isn’t a whole lot to add. In summary, we can say that things are in a holding pattern on the part of the school district. Northcrest neighbors have been assured by our county commissioner that nothing will proceed without the input of Northcrest neighbors.
On June 9, Chuck Hunt and Jim Taylor from Northcrest Civic Association had a productive meeting at the school with principal Terri Brown and media specialist Martha Wheeling. The meeting was primarily an update from the civic association on its efforts and what the group has learned so far. Everyone looked over the proposed site plans and learned a lot from discussing their concerns.
Brown and Wheeling naturally had a great deal of insight into school operations and shared a few ideas about how to keep children safer with traffic flow and placement of bus lanes. School staff are generally happy with the plan, but realized it is just a proposal at this point and have not heard more than Northcrest neighbors. All agreed it was time to arrange regular meeting with the district and Brown has made the request to start as early as mid July.
With still no word on those meeting yet this summer, the assumption at this point is that the district is working on larger problems. The school district must acquire the land they need to situate the new school building closer to Pleasantdale Road and build adequate access. From what we understand, the offer made by the school district to the parks and recreation division was inadequate. It is the civic association’s guess that this is the reason construction originally scheduled to start this summer has not begun.
Looking at the site maps, the new building is clearly going to be an improvement over the existing site. However, there are a couple of things that are likely to be of significant concern to some neighbors.
This school is going to be a lot bigger. While it is set back from the neighborhood a bit, and it appears that they have been as creative as possible positioning the main building on the land in about the best spot they really could, it could make some neighbors on Northwoods, Hidden Acres and Northlake Way feel a bit closer to the school.
All at the meeting agreed that the main entrance comes a little close to the Northlake Drive dead end. Northcrest residents would likely want to hear more about how that area is being handled and have some assurances that it will not be left in such a manner as to allow vehicles to hop a curb and pass through. As the dead end is not functional except for parking, an initial thought is that perhaps the county could step in and help turn the dead end into green space, or repave Northlake Dr. into Northlake Way as a curve.
At the end of Northwoods, there is a bridge that leads to a trail going up into the park. The wooded area back there is quite beautiful and ecologically unique in the opinion of many neighbors. From the proposed site plan, it would appear that sadly this area transfers from park to school property and would be cleared.
There are ecological concerns in general. Construction runoff into the creek and any negative effects to wildlife are paramount among these.
After chatting through construction topics, the group agreed much more information is needed and that nothing appeared to be happening soon. The remainder of the time was spent discussing how Northcrest neighbors can better support Pleasantdale Elementary School.
Roughly 60 percent of the area zoned for the school is the Northcrest neighborhood. Yet only a few students from the neighborhood attend the school. With the growing number of families moving in, the number of eligible students is increasing, creating a clear turnover problem for home buying in Northcrest. Hunt and Taylor offered to work with the Northcrest Civic Association school committee to continue to find ways for Northcrest to help the school and vice versa.As updates become available, they will be made available on a special Nextdoor.com group.