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PEAK could postpone High School remodeling project

A top Mercer Island School District administrator has recommended postponing the high school remodeling project until PEAK plans are finalized.

Plans for PEAK, the proposed Boys and Girls Club facility to be built on district land, include space for the high school wrestling program. The high school remodel plans would then utilize the former wrestling space for classrooms and office space. If PEAK doesn’t go through, the district would likely purchase portables rather than remodel, according to Liz Dodd, associate superintendent of business services.

“The original plan, the original timeline was that we would be doing the creation of PEAK and the remodel at the same time, and those would start during summer 2007,” Dodd told the School Board at a study session last Thursday.

She now recommends remodeling in 2008, after construction of PEAK.

“The PEAK process has been delayed. We don’t have final approval that PEAK is going to occur, and we really we cannot remodel the high school until we have confirmation the PEAK project is going to be built,” Dodd told the Reporter.

Plans for remodeling at the high school include adding five classrooms and 1,000 square feet of office space designated for humanities.

Snags including impervious surface permits and the development agreement have slowed the PEAK process, Dodd said.

“There just have been some issues that have been raised by the city that PEAK has had to work with the city on that have put into question whether or not the PEAK will be built,” she said, though she believes there is enough support for PEAK that it will happen.

The board showed little reaction to Dodd’s proposal, but did ask some questions.

“So what is the impact on the high school?” asked Lisa Strauch Eggers, School Board president. “Part of the reason we were enthusiastic (about PEAK and the remodel) is that it helped alleviate overcrowding at the high school, particularly for this bubble class of 2008. So now we’re not going to be doing anything to help that at the high school.”

Dodd said postponing the remodel could pose two benefits. First, it would not require that wrestling be displaced for an entire season. If the PEAK construction and remodeling coincide, wrestling would likely have to go off-Island; if the remodel happens after PEAK, wrestling could move to PEAK for one season.

Postponing remodeling could also provide the district access to different financing options, Dodd said, because they could use the 2008 capital levy to ask voters to pay for the remodel.

OTHER PEAK NOTES:

Meanwhile, officials with the King County Boys & Girls Club said fund-raising efforts are moving quickly. Daniel Johnson, KCBGC CEO, said the group has raised $9 million of the $14 million needed to fund the project.

The School Board also met for an executive session to continue work on the PEAK lease agreement.

Current plans for PEAK include 2,870 square feet of child care space, a 70-square-foot increase from the West Mercer property. They plan to include space for eight infants, 14 toddlers and 20 learning lab students. The latest proposal has been endorsed by the MIBGC learning lab director and childcare director, as well as Linda Tepper, the director of Country Village Day school, and Stowe Sprague, Mercer Island Preschool Association co-chair for preschool advocacy.

The latest parking plan is based on a shared-use plan with 255 total available spaces. Ninety-nine of those will be PEAK spaces; the district will add 35 new spaces to its current parking for a total 156 district spots. Transpo has completed its parking study with anticipated high-activity and regular-activity usage. See graph.

In a letter to Rich Conrad, city manager, Dodd wrote: “Shared parking in this situation will minimize the creations of new impervious surfaces and increase the efficient use of the scarce public land resource at the high school site.”

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