City, school leaders discuss traffic, ball fields

November 4, 2008

By Jon Savelle

Mix together the Issaquah School Board, the City Council, Mayor Ava Frisinger, school district administrators and heaping platters of Chinese food, and the result is the annual meeting of the city and school district, held Oct. 30 this year at the Mandarin Garden Restaurant.

The purpose of the meeting was to exchange information and discuss issues of mutual interest. There was no shortage of those — city officials came prepared with a list of seven.

Some of them were easily answered. The future of Clark Elementary School, for example, will remain as it is. The school resource officer program, in which a police officer is assigned to work with schools, has been a resounding success. And emergency planning is going smoothly with the city, the district and King County.

More in-depth discussion followed Frisinger’s question about public use of the performing arts center planned for the new Issaquah High School.

This facility — a 600-seat main theater and a 125-seat “black box” theater — will come in the second phase of the building program, explained Steve Crawford, director of capital projects for the district. It probably will open in 2011.

When it does, the community would like to be able to use it, city officials said. And that is possible. But School Board President Jan Woldseth said the district has to watch costs, so some kind of joint funding arrangement would be the most practical.

Of equal interest to the city is the district’s plan for traffic mitigation at the new Issaquah High School. Crawford said discussions are under way with traffic engineers who are looking at the school’s effects on three intersections: Front Street South at Second Avenue, East Sunset Way at Second Avenue, and Front at Sunset.

A key question, Crawford said, is whether to work on all three or concentrate resources on the worst one at Second and Sunset.

While school construction is under way, district officials are emphasizing students’ carpooling. Superintendent Steve Rasmussen said students already have organized a very efficient program.

“The kids have done such a great job carpooling, there are extra spaces available,” he said.

Other traffic changes planned for the school include a signal at the campus entry, with a center left-turn lane, and restricted access to the upper parking lot.

Not far away, Issaquah Middle School is also on the city’s mind. Council President Maureen McCarry noted that its sports field is inadequate for the amount of use it gets, and she reiterated the council’s interest in converting it to all-weather artificial turf.

Crawford, however, said there are no plans to do so. He said the last school bond and the previous repair issue both included proposals for all-weather turf on all fields, but a citizens’ advisory committee nixed them.

Nonetheless, both sides agreed that such fields are the wave of the future, and that the issue will come up again.

Reach Reporter Jon Savelle at 392-6434, ext. 234, or jsavelle@isspress.com.

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