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District says no school on new land
At the Mercer Island School District Board of Directors meeting held last Thursday, schools superintendent Gary Plano announced that the school district will not pursue constructing a school on the five-acre Stevenson property. After a recent meeting with 100 neighbors from around the parcel, school district administrators heard loud and clear that a school would not be welcome there.
District administrators had moved to purchase the Stevensons’ land, as it is one of the last large undeveloped parcels on the Island. They saw purchasing the land as an opportunity. The intent was either to build a school there or to ‘bank’ as an asset that could be used toward acquiring land at another location. Both board members and the superintendent agreed that if an additional school was to be built, a North end property would be best. The body pledged to work with the city to find a suitable site for the future.
Plano said he did not expect the amount of ‘push back’ from residents around the Stevenson land; horses were boarded there until a year ago. Their concerns were centered mostly around the amount of traffic a school would generate.
Board member Brian Emanuels was also surprised by the response to a possible school at the site. “It would be hard to proceed,” he said, “with the amount of opposition there.”
The School Board has signed an agreement with the Stevenson heirs to purchase the five acres by August of 2013. The property would be paid for with proceeds from the upcoming bond issue.
Plano also announced that the school district will also continue to be open to working with Redeemer Lutheran Church and a possible acquisition of their land. If such a purchase was to be made, the school district would commit to an arrangement to let the congregation remain on the land.
With that topic set aside, Plano said that the board should move ahead to focus on the first item on the school rebuilding plan, which is the design and reconstruction of Island Park Elementary School.