Issaquah High School one step closer to construction starting

January 12, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Issaquah School District officials are one step closer to breaking real ground at Issaquah High School.

The city’s Development Commission recently voted Jan. 7 to recommend the City Council approve the district’s master site plan and site development permits.“We hope to have the project go before council on Feb. 2,” Christopher Wright, a senior planner for the city, wrote in an e-mail.

The rebuild includes resituating many of the existing buildings and building three three-story classroom wings, as well as a performing arts center and new gymnasium facilities. The current sports fields, except for new tennis courts, will remain in place.

The school will be 285,000 square feet and will serve about 1,850 students in 85 classroom facilities, expected to open in fall 2010.

The rebuild was set to begin demolition and construction in June; however, the project has encountered delays with city officials, despite them and district officials meeting since July 2007.

Those delays included a decision on what type of traffic mitigation the district would need to pay to the city to offset new traffic to the high school, and a technical design issue with the inside corridors and commons area off the three classroom wings.

Because the high school project requires a master site plan, as well as a site development permit from the city, it requires the highest level of review by city officials, Wright said.

When asked if the process had been slower or faster than other projects, he said, it is difficult to compare.

“Master site plans don’t happen very often,” maybe once every couple of years, Wright wrote. “But I think it has been pretty typical for such a high level of review.”

After discussions with city staff members, district officials agreed to help make roadway improvements to Second Avenue and Sunset Way, and the intersection of Second Avenue and Front Street. Each intersection will get new turn-only lanes to help ease congestion during peak travel times. Residential street parking at Second Avenue and Sunset Way will be reduced to accommodate the new turn-only lanes.

In addition, the district will make improvements to Second Avenue directly in front of the school. New turn-only lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks are in the design plans.

The Development Commission’s recommendation puts district officials one step further but City Council approval is still necessary. 

“Before construction can begin, the building permit and public works permit need to be issued,” Wright wrote. “The Building Department and the Public Works Department are currently reviewing those applications.”

District officials did submit their master site plan and site development permits, as well as their construction permits, concurrently, which has saved time, Wright added.

District officials will open the project for public bid to seek a general contractor by mid- to late January.

District officials and architects at the Development Commission said they would like to have the remaining permits in hand so that they can start construction in March.

Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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