Designing the new school on Genesee Hill: GSNC’s early hopes

November 12, 2012 at 5:27 pm | In Genesee Hill, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 26 Comments

Though the BEX IV school-building levy won’t go to voters till next February, the process of designing its first potential projects is starting now – including the creation of a community/district Design Team for the new school that’s currently described as Schmitz Park Elementary at Genesee Hill. That school will be built on the site where the closed ex-GH Elementary now stands. The Genesee-Schmitz Neighborhood Council is announcing its hopes for the site – looking ahead to a community conversation next week:

GSNC is pleased to announce that Kerrie Schurr, the group’s Communications Chair, has been selected to represent the council on the Seattle School District’s Design Advisory Team for the new Genesee Hill school building (future location of the Schmitz Park program, if the capital levy passes in February). This is a great opportunity for the community to have input into the design considerations, either via the council or directly to the district at the Community Conversation for this project.

The Community Conversation will be held on Monday, November 19, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Schmitz Park Elementary School. A second Community Conversation will be held during the week of January 21 (details forthcoming).

At the short (1-hr.) GSNC meeting last Thursday evening, those in attendance came up with the initial list below of desired features for the new Genesee Hill school. Additional ideas may be submitted to gsncouncil@gmail.com by 5 p.m. Sunday, November 18.

The GSNC requests, after the jump:

1. Good traffic flow around the site for buses and cars, plus onsite parking

2. Indoor and outdoor meeting spaces that could be used by the community as well as the school

3. Garden with integrated community-school involvement (would build on current community garden)

4. Green space, preferably with preservation of native plants

5. Emergency location in event of a major disaster

6. Building to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified, preferably to Gold Standard (if budget allows)

7. Building scale and size to fit in with the neighborhood while minimizing the footprint to preserve green space

8. Good drainage on the property

9. A cistern under the building to capture water for garden use

One area that was overlooked in the discussions (but will likely be added) is optimizing safety and security at the site (i.e., designing in such a way as to discourage illegal activity such as drug dealing).

Some other ideas that were discussed and may warrant further consideration: Preserve the sledding hill; include electric car charging stations in the parking lot; preserve community access through the property. Two controversial areas that were discussed were whether to consider a dog park (but district/city rules would not allow it); and whether to keep the large evergreens (district staff see them as a safety concern in the event of windstorms). One meeting attendee pointed out that the trees were not there in 1965 when his children attended Genesee Hill School.

One possible area of concern: Whether the site has any soil contamination from the old Asarco smelter in Tacoma.

26 Comments

  1. If the school district continues to insist on moving Schmitz Park from it’s present location I will be voting against the school levy.

    Comment by David — 5:36 pm November 12, 2012 #

  2. But in the meantime they force Arbor Heights kids to go to a school that is falling apart. Good job SPS again proving to everybody you don’t care about the south end West Seattle kids.

    Comment by west seattle mom — 7:08 pm November 12, 2012 #

  3. KOMO is doing a story about this tonight. I’m really interested in what they found. Something needs to be done.
    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Crumbling-Seattle-schools-178977351.html

    Comment by Amanda — 7:30 pm November 12, 2012 #

  4. west seattle mom:

    Yeah, that Sealth High School is looking pretty run down. LOL.

    I vote yes on all school levies. Even though I have never had a kid. Goat or human.

    Comment by U25C — 7:38 pm November 12, 2012 #

  5. Why do they keep calling it Schmitz Park at Genesee Hill? What a convoluted name.

    Comment by Noelle — 7:39 pm November 12, 2012 #

  6. I would prefer they move forward with the plan to build on the Genesee site. I do not think they should construct a new school on the Schmitz park site while students are attending that school. It is already chaotic with the over crowding. Trying to build on that site at the same time poses safety issues. Please support the Genesee Hill site. Our children are worth it.

    Comment by CEW — 7:49 pm November 12, 2012 #

  7. Kerrie Schurr will be a great asset on the design team. That I am not skeptical about.

    Comment by skeptic — 8:04 pm November 12, 2012 #

  8. If the Schmitz Park at Genesee Hill Project goes through. will not support any more Seattle School Levies and will vigorously campaign against them.

    Comment by parent of past student — 8:29 pm November 12, 2012 #

  9. Voting no on BEX and ready to move away from Seattle. I will encourage everyone I know to also vote no.

    Comment by A — 8:46 pm November 12, 2012 #

  10. To CEW: The student can be re-located to Genesee during construction. You apparently aren’t aware of the advantage to being educated next to Schmitz Park with opportunity to learn about nature first hand.

    Comment by parent of past student — 12:06 am November 13, 2012 #

  11. Voting no on anything that would move Schmitz Park Elementary away from Schmitz Park.

    Comment by Nick — 12:17 am November 13, 2012 #

  12. Voting no on the BEX levy will ensure that Arbor Heights will NOT receive a new building and that there will NOT be enough seats in West Seattle North for all our kids. Schmitz Park and Genesee Hill will both be needed by 2015.
    Bottom line,voting yes will get AH their new building and get kids out of portables. If you vote no you are only punishing teachers and students.

    Comment by vote yes on BEX — 8:21 am November 13, 2012 #

  13. Agree with all points made by “vote yes on BEX”.

    Please vote yes on the Levy and I agree with moving kids/school to the Genesee Hill site. There are so many children at SP it is currently unsafe. During construction there is no room to move all these children to the Genesee Hill site and to do so safely.

    Is the resistance to the Genesee Hill site related to the desire for it to be a “dog park”? It is confusing to me why there would be resistance to moving the school. There are so many children in this neighborhood now plus the upcoming years, there is nowhere to put all of them in the current scenario at Schmitz Park, and even worse in the existing Genesee Hill building.

    Comment by SP parent and Genesee Hill resident — 10:04 am November 13, 2012 #

  14. Why can’t they keep SP open as Schmitz Park and open Genesee Hill as Genesee Hill at Genesee Hill? Is it all over the name? I say keep Schmitz Park a neighborhood school because obviously it has been working these past 50 or so years.

    I don’t like SPS and the way they run things but I will vote yes for the levy.

    Comment by Bonnie — 10:52 am November 13, 2012 #

  15. I think the desire SPP & GHR is that both buildings are completed at GH and SP, and that SP remains a neighborhood school. It has great natural advantages being close to a park, and doesn’t need to be morphed into the STEM Program. STEM can land at Fairmount, or the new GH building, thus adding “advanced program” capacity, rather than incubating them into one bulding (SP). Voting no on BEX because of Charter initiative and future SP plans.

    Comment by george — 11:31 am November 13, 2012 #

  16. The name issues are only a place holder referring to the fact that the SP community is too large for the campus, and initially it was thought it needed to be moved in its entirety to Genesee. However, there are many ways to look at the use of many of the buildings in WS and they need to be examined, especially as new data regarding enrollment and growth arrives. Then the names can thoughtfully and respectfully be attached to communities or buildings.
    Also, if you believe you are voting no because you don’t want your beloved Schmitz Park Elem to change or move, go by during one of the 3 lunches so you can see that it is not the school you remember.
    George, we will need 2 more schools for neighborhood kids by 2015, not even counting STEM, and by voting no, you make them sit in portables and use inferior core facilities.

    Comment by vote yes on BEX — 11:43 am November 13, 2012 #

  17. Keeping Schmitz Park at Schmitz Park locatoin is super important. Most people do not realize the impact it has on the schools programs and how often it is used as a resource (the park). Also it is currently an occupied school site whereas Gennessee Hill has been closed for long enough it will have to go through a complete conditional use review that has it’s own costs associated with that. Placing STEM at Fairmount park, shift SPE children to Boren while their school is rebuilt on there own site.

    Comment by raincity — 11:57 am November 13, 2012 #

  18. No more money to the SPS until a real accounting of the money they’ve been given is done. That BEX levy is asking for ONE BILLION DOLLARS. Something is wrong when everyone can’t get a new school for ONE BILLION DOLLARS.

    Comment by Amanda — 12:16 pm November 13, 2012 #

  19. Amanda – The BEX levy is not a billion dollars. $700 million. The district also will be asking voters to approve its OPERATIONS levy – not to build anything, just to keep operating – on the same ballot. That one does put the FULL total over a billion. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 12:23 pm November 13, 2012 #

  20. Well said vote yes on BEX! Our beloved Schmitz Park school has changed drastically in the last 3 years because of the tremendous growth.

    Comment by skeptic — 1:08 pm November 13, 2012 #

  21. And what do you think created that growth?

    Comment by george — 2:03 pm November 13, 2012 #

  22. Ah, thanks Tracy – Still makes it a little hard to swallow :)

    Comment by Amanda — 2:33 pm November 13, 2012 #

  23. George: In my opinion, the growth came from an exceptionally large birth year of 2006 & 2007 across West Seattle which has lead to 4 kindergarten classes in 2011 and 5 K classes this fall 2012 at SP. The 140 kindergarteners who started this year is similar to the size of the whole school consisting of 5 grades just a few years ago.

    Families with young children buy homes in this geographic zone move to send their kids to this school.

    Comment by SP parent and Genesee Hill resident — 3:51 pm November 13, 2012 #

  24. Voting NO on BEX! Voting won’t end the portables as Yes on BEX insinuates. Look at the brand new Sealth/Denny schools. I am fairly positive they now have portables. I will vote to never give another penny to SPS. And yes, I have two kids with one in the SPS system (unfortunately).

    Comment by A — 4:28 pm November 13, 2012 #

  25. How about selling the big fancy administrative building and use the funds to fix our school. The Administrators can be housed in the portables. If it’s good enough for my kids it’s good enough for them.

    Comment by MSW — 7:42 pm November 13, 2012 #

  26. What created the growth was the end of bussing and return to the 1950′s model of neighborhood schools. The Seattle school district appears to me to not be nimble enough to manage their resources until after the fact. They have two schools in West Seattle that are empty that they should have been upgrading to make safe or replacing before it became a crisis. The thought of moving the Schmitz Park school name is a stupid plan by most likely administrators who are not from this area and never studied history. If the name is moved we will vote no on the levy – this is the only way to get the school districts attention. Otherwise they will do what they want despite public opinion.

    Comment by David — 2:09 am November 14, 2012 #

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