Issaquah School District outlines school plans to public
March 13, 2012
By Tom Corrigan
About a dozen people showed up in the gym of Issaquah Middle School the evening of March 8 for a presentation regarding the possible future of at least three Issaquah School District facilities.
The topic was the possible relocation and reconstruction of IMS, Tiger Mountain Community High School and Clark Elementary School.
For the most part, those in attendance were in favor of the plans, though they had questions.
Janet Wright and Robert Clement live just behind IMS. Both said windows in their condominiums are about 20 feet from the property line separating their homes from the school property.
Under the district’s plan, if voters approve a $219 million bond issue, IMS would be reworked into a two-sided campus, with half of it becoming home to Clark and the other half reworked into space for Tiger Mountain. Both Clement and Wright said prior to the meeting that they wanted assurances that noise, lights and other issues would not arise if the revamping of the property goes forward.
Just as the IMS site would undergo major changes, so would the Clark location next to Issaquah High School. Clark eventually would be torn down, with a new IMS rising in its place. Parent Jeff Woods wanted to know if traffic around Clark would become a problem, especially during construction. Officials will take steps to keep cars flowing in and out of the existing Clark and the adjacent Issaquah High, Associate Superintendent Ron Thiele said.
The situation won’t be perfect, but would be workable.
“We don’t do this to disrupt and inconvenience the community,” district Superintendent Steve Rasmussen said, adding he believes the public would be more than happy with the ultimate results.
It’s “just the mess in the middle” that might cause some anxiety, he said.
If the bond issue passes, design and planning would be the first steps in the process, according to Steve Crawford, district director of capital improvements, who added that there would be plenty of opportunities for input from the public and building staff members. Building a new IMS would be first, which Crawford said he doesn’t expect to get under way until early spring 2014. The new IMS would rise next to the existing Clark while classes continued in that school and in the current IMS.
Once the new IMS was completed in 2015, that school would open to students and work could start on converting the current IMS into the new Clark and Tiger Mountain campuses.
Crawford did not give any estimates regarding completion of the new Clark and Tiger.
Once the new Clark and Tiger Mountain schools are built, the existing Clark could be demolished. Then the new IMS would get a new sports fields in front of the building. Those fields would not have lighting so they would not be in use at night, said Jake Kuper, district chief of finances and operations. Lighting the fields would allow them more use, but not necessarily make those fields the best of neighbors, he added.
Many of the public questions concerned plans for the rear of the current IMS property. Some residents said there are problems with students congregating behind a specific building and on a nearby trail. Officials said the schools are working with the city to cut down on students hanging out on the public trails. At this point, there are no final plans for the back of the existing IMS, Crawford said, but he added those plans would take into account neighbor concerns.
“Let’s be blunt,” said Thiele, arguing that an elementary school would make for a better neighbor than a roughly 1,000-student middle school.
“I came away with positive feelings,” Wright said after the approximately one-hour session. The comments of district officials led her to believe they are willing to listen to residents, she added.
Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.