Home News Local News City, school district negotiate Del Norte plan

City, school district negotiate Del Norte plan

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Superintendent Dr. McIlroy points to a PowerPoint presentation of proposed site plans for Del Norte Elementary School at the city’s infrastructure committee on Monday afternoon at Roswell City Hall. Councilors George Peterson, Juan Oropesa, Caleb Grant and Jeanine Corn Best sit a the head of the table. Chad Cole, Mac Rodgers, and Steve Miko are seated to the left of McIlroy. (Alison Penn Photo)

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Reporter’s note: This article has been edited for clarity.

City of Roswell and Roswell Independent School District (RISD) officials met on Monday to discuss the design for Del Norte Elementary School and Del Norte Park, east of the school.

During a city infrastructure committee meeting, Councilor Caleb Grant made a motion to send RISD’s request for an encroachment of 30 feet of Del Norte Park to the full council without a recommendation by the committee while RISD Superintendent Ann Lynn McIlroy and City Manager Joe Neeb create a new agreement between the city and school district.

Councilor Jeanine Corn Best seconded Grant’s motion and it carried unanimously, with Councilors Juan Oropesa and George Peterson casting votes in favor.

School district and city officials revisited the history of the original agreement — which was never finalized — whereby the school district would have built its new building on the park east of the school. After discussion with the committee, Neeb and McIlroy decided to meet sometime next week to negotiate a new agreement.

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After lengthy discussion, Oropesa and Mayor Dennis Kintigh recommended the city council be able to vote on the encroachment and the agreement at the full city council meeting on Aug. 9.

Both district and city officials acknowledged many challenges surround the high traffic area between Del Norte Elementary School and Goddard High School. City officials shared concerns about the traffic impact on the neighborhood. School officials pointed out the Public School Facilities Authority (PSFA) would not approve of a city cut-street between the park and the school — since students and parents would have another street to cross.

There was discussion of a possible agreement for the city to give the district 30 feet of the park — and the school district to partner with the city to create an acceleration lane, to allow traffic exiting on La Paloma Lane to turn left or right on North Garden Avenue.

City Engineer Louis Najar clarified that the city requested the RISD build turn lane at the intersection of La Paloma Lane and North Garden Avenue, including transition/acceleration lane. He said Del Norte’s proposed drop-off area will be the cause of increased impact to La Paloma and North Garden Avenue.

Oropesa asked what would happen if the council does not approve the encroachment and McIlroy said the district would have to alter the new school’s design, which would delay the project’s completion by about six months.

She said the council’s denial would cause RISD to significantly change the site plan and impact four classrooms and two floors. At the public forum in April, Raimund McClain, one of the architects, said the goal is to have construction begin this fall with the intention of the school being ready in fall 2020.

Najar said the design is set and Neeb said the design will go before the state at the end of August to be permitted.

The new school’s site plans were presented at a public forum in April and a school board meeting in June. The school district previously held a building committee meeting on May 23.

Councilor Caleb Grant asked why it took fours months while issues presented at that public forum were left to linger. In response, Chad Cole, RISD assistant superintendent of finance and operations, said the district was in a period of transition at the time and is now moving forward.

McIlroy apologized that it took a while for the two entities to unite while a superintendent search was conducted. She reminded the committee that the project has been in the works for several years under the supervision of different superintendents.

McIlroy said the school’s design would increase parking in all the areas, accommodate significant traffic, and would create a separate special education drop-off and pick-up by means of a bus zone on St. Andrews Lane for the special education wing. She said RISD is partnering with the PSFA and the authority offers guidelines based on state standards for how long access points need to be and how many parking spots are required.

When councilors raised concerns about parking, or parents driving into the teacher parking area, McIlroy said adapting the students, parents and school staff will take a “major training effort” to change “60 years of habit,” and the district is strategizing on how to accomplish this.

In other park-related news, Grant asked if the playground areas on school grounds would be open to the public after school hours and Mac Rogers, RISD’s construction manager, said this would not be the case.

Cole said park access is a procedure and policy issue. Cole added that the school has faced the issues of vandalism and finding needles in the park.

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