Dori, the Denny Middle School Lunch Lady, says that’s what she serves every day, and she invited the architects and school administrators overseeing the Denny-Sealth construction project to come have lunch. She was one of about 35 people who came to tonight’s overview of the latest plans for the Denny-Sealth shared-campus project with some serious concerns over the initial plans. The plan presented showed one kitchen which would serve both schools, to be located between the gym and the common areas. As Dori said – a kitchen with no windows or adequate ventilation is not a good idea. What she wants is for the planners and architects to see the existing Denny lunch room and kitchen, which she calls a “kitchen done right.”
Her comments shifted the topic away from the lack of public notice for these meetings (an issue at the last one, called by the Westwood Neighborhood Council in June). The school district’s Eleanor Trainer started the meeting by saying that the normal process for the district’s construction projects has been accelerated because the district is facing the possibility of rising construction costs long before work actually begins. The Westwood Neighborhood Council’s Steve Fischer began and ended the meeting by saying that he could appreciate that consideration, but he did not feel it still justified the meeting being called on such short notice. Ms. Trainer countered that the next meeting would be on October 25th at Sealth, but several in the crowd still felt that this again was too short a lead time to get word out.
Trainer said that several other means of getting word about the meetings are in the works. A web site that covers the project should be up by next week. Also, a mailing will go out to homes that are within a certain radius of both the Denny and Sealth campuses.
Architects Donald King and Nancy Calleri rolled out the plans, took questions, and talked about how work will begin, some as early as this summer. While the new Denny building is under construction, Sealth will receive a seismic upgrade, fire sprinklers will be installed, and the old steam boiler will be swapped out for a new water boiler.
Mr. King also read back what he heard as the major concerns and he said that those concerns will be part of the agenda on the 25th. The primary concern that came from the meeting revolves around traffic and parking. Staff from both Denny and Sealth who were in the audience wondered if enough had been done to address where they will park and if the new lots will be able to handle the load for both school. Other related traffic topics included bus dropoff and pick-up zones, traffic flow during construction, and whether both schools will have the same arrival and dismissal times. Also, the subject of Denny kids having to go back across Thistle to use their old gym brought up the need for increased pedestrian lights and better crossing areas.
The next meeting will also look at sustainability issues that might have an impact on Longfellow Creek. Tonight’s meeting briefly touched on such things as green roofs, cisterns, and rain water vaults.
At the very end of the meeting Steve Fischer announced that the Westwood Neighborhood Council has applied to the city for a grant to study what can be done with the existing Denny property after the school moves across the street.