The board of directors of the voted to support the project at a recent meeting.
According to board president , the chamber listed a number of reasons for their support of the proposed project, which calls for the on a site that is currently home to a vacant office building and warehouse on Davis Drive
The first item Burgess addressed was why the Belmont Chamber of Commerce, typically an organization comprised of for-profit businesses, would support a non-profit (school). Burgess explained that chamber was formed to ease the start-up of new businesses and to promote and foster members with tenure. Crystal Springs Upland School (CSUS) is a member and the Belmont middle school is a start-up he said.
Other factors that prompted the chamber's support:
- CSUS has expressed willingness to offset any due to its tax exempt status by a generous payment directly to the City and is more than willing to offset any loss in property tax by a factor of two.
- The property has remained vacant for five years or more. CSUS is offering to pay more than what the city would collect in property taxes than the $65,000/year the property is currently generating.
- CSUS has indicated its parents and students would shop locally, thereby supporting Belmont businesses.
- CSUS has indicated that it will have the student food service provided by a local vendor(1076 meals/week), meaning bids would be drawn from chamber members and other local businesses.
- When schools are in session, Belmont businesses are busier than during summer months.
- Impact to traffic along the Ralston corridor will be minimal due to Caltrain shuttles, carpools and an inter-school shuttle that will bring students to Belmont from the existing campus in Hillsborough.
- The Chamber is attacking the traffic on Ralston in two ways; first, we are assisting the City in their request for a Belmont shuttle and, second in their quest for a comprehensive study of the Ralston corridor.
- Other schools in Belmont will act as feeder schools for CSUS and benefit from the proximity to such a school. A local principal of one of our Belmont Elementary Schools noted that having CSUS in Belmont will most definitely enhance al of Belmont’s schools.
Burgess also addressed concerns raised by members of the community who are due to traffic and noise concerns.
"It seems to me that CSUS has made changes to every challenge made by city and resident, i.e. glare from the roof, windows, more parking, and loss of property tax money. CSUS is designing a campus that will blend into and enhance the environment," Burgess said.
The chamber also stressed the need for additional youth sports facilities in Belmont--something that CSUS has offered the community should its to the city be accepted.
"If CSUS maintains the new facility and grounds as they are doing in Hillsborough, Belmont will have a jewel to be admired by the entire Bay Area. It will be a draw to Belmont," said Burgess.
In addition, Burgess said the chamber believes the school would have an effect on property values in Belmont.
"Home values should increase. Realtors tell me, 'People select homes based on schools.' The prestige of having such a nationally acclaimed school in our midst will most certainly add value to our homes," Burgess said.