West Platte patrons comment on elementary reconfiguration, wrestling room and traffic/parking concerns

Some members of the West Platte community heard of the school district’s possible long-range plans and voiced their concerns at a special meeting of the Board of Education Monday evening.

Last month, the Board heard a presentation from HTK Architects and energy consultant ME Group. Starting more than a year ago, the district commissioned the firms to survey the patrons, staff and community, assess the district’s needs and draft a plan forward. The consultants conducted a survey, interviews and conducted charrettes. The Board invited architect Mark Franzen and anthropologist Marcel Harmon back to the special meeting Monday to present an updated summary report and consider additional input. Board President John Collier told the small crowd that this long-range plan was nothing new, as the district had such plans for some time, often a succession of plans over the years. He also noted that beginning with the next regular Board of Education meeting that public comments would only be heard at the end of the meeting agenda. Ongoing projects were presented, such as repairs to the Benner Park trail and the upgrade of entry door security. Ways to improve the site safety and traffic flow and to address building space issues were the main focus of the meeting. Franzen suggested the Board consider setting aside up to $10 million of its reserves from the Iatan II construction tax income for use over the next five years or so to reconfigure the site, update older systems and set up the district for the future. Franzen suggested priority should be given to addressing traffic flow and parking, performing enhancements to the building utility services and renovation of the cafeteria and performing arts center entryway. One way to address the traffic flow problems, Franzen said, would be to relocate the access road at the back of the school further down the hill. The drive is narrow and congested with car and bus traffic and deliveries, students dropped off and picked up on Washington Street are potentially in danger from vehicular traffic, and the drive runs right by the elementary playground. “I think relocating that would really open up a lot of options for you,” Franzen said. If the road were moved, the space behind the buildings could be renovated into an entryway plaza. A new parking lot could be built between the existing practice field and district stadium and another access road built at the far end of the parking lot, thus allowing for easier flow of traffic.