Home News Local News School board mulls over traffic plan for Del Norte Elementary

School board mulls over traffic plan for Del Norte Elementary

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This graphic is the most recent site plan from McClain + Yu Architecture & Design and SMPC Architects’ replacement plan for Del Norte Elementary School located at 2701 N. Garden Ave. (File Photo)

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The Roswell Independent School District school board discussed and reviewed updated site plans for the replacement Del Norte Elementary School with a focus on the potential traffic direction.

Chad Cole, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, said the concerns about traffic patterns and parking had been discussed at length at the last school board meeting.

Raymond McClain from McClain + Yu Architecture & Design and Arthur McGoye from SMPC Architects presented the site plan and updates for informational purposes and encouraged comment from the board. Both Cole and the architects reminded everyone at the meeting that the plan was created by working with the school’s building committee with the school’s principal, administrators and staff. Cole said the building committee reviewed the site design plans at a meeting on May 23.

Attempting to create multiple safe choices for visitors and students, Architect Arthur McGoye said pick-up and drop-off is a vulnerable time for all the schools and can be changed through the districts operational choices. The board and architects continued the conversation later in the meeting.

Dr. Kathleen Pittman, school board member, asked President Mona Kirk’s opinion with her past principal experience on the proposed pick-up and drop-off plan. As a principal, Kirk said she did not think it was the best idea — but she understood the staff’s choices and the decision will “have to be lived with.”

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After prefacing that she “would speak from her heart,” Kirk said she is a resident in the neighborhood and knows that North Atkinson Avenue and East La Paloma Lane will be a nightmare between before and after school hours as well as Wednesday afternoons. Kirk said other surrounding neighbors have shared adamant disapproval of the plan to funnel traffic.

“I’ve already had a conversation with the architect and with the schools and — there comes a time when you have to say, ‘I surrender,’” Kirk said.

McClain said the school is a tough site and landlocked with some challenges. Some of the challenges he listed that are in conflict with each other are having Del Norte Elementary School in close proximity to Goddard High School and facing high traffic congestion along North Garden Avenue.

McClain said another challenge is having the west parking pick-up lane and guest/parent parking overlapping on North Garden Avenue. From this parking area, visitors must back out into traffic on Garden Avenue to exit the parking lot. Another concern is for pedestrians crossing Garden Avenue to get to the school. McClain said this safety challenge does not meet best practices in school traffic circulation.

McClain said the plan will increase 87 parking spaces to 111 and 16 cars in the drop-off and pick-up lane will increase capacity to 32 cars. McClain said the acknowledgment of the current lack of parking is creating drop-off and pick-up within the neighborhood and is causing more foot traffic across Garden Avenue.

The biggest challenge, according to McClain, is keeping the school in operation and allowing the existing Del Norte Park to remain intact. It is estimated by McClain and Rogers to encroach only within 20-30 feet of the park.

Cole said the city was gracious and great to work with when the previous plan was to swap the land for the school and park — but wanted the public to know the school will not be using the park. McClain said the budget for the school is kept in mind to be used responsibly. If the swap happened, McClain said costs associated for rebuilding the park was “financially infeasible.”

Kirk explained the plan is for vehicles entering at St. Andrews and circling to the right around the park exiting out on La Paloma with a right turn.

McClain said there will be significant assets retained from the north parking lot, west parking lot and a renovation of the gymnasium. McClain said the design will allow for maintaining trees and create a new fire lane for emergency access.

Other assets that will be added are shaded outdoor learning areas. In addition, a separate outdoor area will be designated for kindergartners, to which Cole said these design standards are implemented as safety precautions for kindergarteners.

McGoye said playgrounds will be all-inclusive and encourage intermingling for the students.

More discussion on safety and security was reviewed between the board and the architects. Vice President Ruben Sanchez shared that the board attended a conference that focused on school safety. Ruben Sanchez asked for more lines of site and zones that can be blocked off in smaller zones to protect students. McGoye said more access control discussion will appear at a later date.

“I feel very strongly that our site design meets the needs of Del Norte Elementary and is in line without goals of building 21st century learning environments across the district,” RISD Construction Manager Mac Rodgers said.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.