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School Construction Projects to Impact Sports Fields, Student Lockers

Belmont youth sports groups ask school district to help mitigate impact of sports fields during and after construction.

The Belmont-Redwood Shores School District Board of Trustees heard an overview on the progress of each of the five Measure I and N facility construction projects at its Thursday meeting. 

The construction projects include additional modular growth classrooms at , and , as well as lunch area transformations, improvements to walkways, drainage, entryways, outdoor spaces and refreshing of the learning environments at five school sites (Nesbit, , , Fox and Ralston). Ralston will also see construction of a new library and administrative offices.

Architect Laura Knauss of Lionakis Architects showed schematic drawings of the various projects.

Two components of the modernization projects prompted discussion between the architect and board members.

The proposed removal of lockers at Ralston due to space restrictions raised questions about how students would go about their day with heavy backpacks, as well as safety issues.

Knauss explained that the California State Department of Education building codes require hallways have a certain student passing width, and the lockers take up too much of that space. Also, with a projected enrollment increase of 300 students next school year, there would be no room for additional lockers at the middle school.

Superintendent Dr. Emerita Orta-Camilleri explained that additional lockers will be available in the physical education locker rooms for students to store their belongings.

The impact of classroom expansion on youth sports fields also raised some concerns by youth sports organizations.

Rich Bortoli, a member of the Belmont Sports Advisory Committee and the Belmont Parks and Recreation Commission, addressed the board citing his organizations’ concerns.

“The four additional classrooms at Fox will impact the soccer fields to the right of the classrooms. If we moved the fields over, that would require grading changes due to the slope of the field,” said Bortoli.

And of the Ralston site, he said, “The baseball diamond that is currently closest to the school will go away, and the diamond in the far corner of the field (used by Pony League Baseball), will have its outfield impacted.”

Bortoli also said that sports groups are concerned about the loss of a soccer field at Ralston used by U12 players.

Knauss pointed out that Measures I and N both speak to making the fields whole during the construction process and said the architects and have met with representatives from the city of Belmont, the Parks and Recreation Department and youth sports organizations to address these issues.

In an e-mail to Assistant Superintendant Nellie Hungerford, Tom Snider, also a member of the Sports Advisory Committee, asked the district consider some steps to mitigate some of the negative impacts of the building expansion.

Suggested steps include adding synthetic turf to Fox and Ralston, allowing sports groups to use new fields in Redwood Shores, re-stripe, grade and irrigate and replace fields and infrastructure that are impacted or lost, and a commitment to repair any damage done to the fields.

Board member Brian Matthews said, “I am concerned about the fields, and I don’t know if we have the funds to do everything we want--but I don’t want them forgotten.”

Steve Hayes September 02, 2011 at 10:07 PM
I have wondered a few things- Why not add about 60 feet of field space by pushing out the fence in the direction of Waterdog? That would require grading but the land is not being used and it would compensate for the land needed for classroom development. As Ralston becomes more crowded why not hold back some of the Sixth Graders? - there is no reason Sixth Grade can not be taught the elementary schools.
Bob September 03, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Steve there is not enough space for the current number of children at the elementary schools. No chance for adding 6th grade to the mix. The Superintendent with her infinite wisdom has convinced the Board to add classrooms east of highway 82 when in fact the capacity issue is the population located west of it. So any additional space for 6 grade would entail sending children across a highway. Historically Belmont has had 2 1/3 more schools on the west side of 82.
Steve Hayes September 03, 2011 at 03:14 PM
Bob - to be more clear - I am suggesting opening 6th grades at schools with excess capacity so for example 5th graders at Nesbit would stay at Nesbit for 6th grade. The Fox 5th graders would move to Ralston because there is no room for 6th grade. Just an idea to work around capacity problems - and it has been done in other districts like Cupertino.
George Metropulos September 03, 2011 at 03:32 PM
Steve--there is no "excess capacity" at our Elementary schools.
Bob September 03, 2011 at 03:38 PM
On the face of it that is not a bad idea. On the other hand it might deprive 6th graders at Nesbit the opportunity to participate in sports the same way as the rest of the district. Also socialization could be an issue. Than again packing them in busses like cattle cars to get them up the hill probably isn't the best thing either. In my opinion it is worth looking at but I would focus on how it might effect the children.
Bob September 03, 2011 at 04:13 PM
Steve I have to admit I suggested the same thing last year. Even more extreme to be honest. I suggested they make Nesbit a K8 school like many of the private and charter schools. I was reminded that those schools were chosen by parents with those grades being all in one place instead of imposed by a district.

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