- Published on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 01:00
- Written by Diego Abeloos - Staff Writerfirstname.lastname@example.org
Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Pinewood School addresses issues such as vehicle queuing with a proposed upgrade for its campus at 327 Fremont Ave.
The Los Altos Planning and Transportation Commission is scheduled to review plans to upgrade Pinewood School’s middle campus at 327 Fremont Ave. Aug. 2, according to Pinewood President Scott Riches.
The now-defunct Architecture and Site Review Committee recommended approval of the private school’s plan in late June.
According to a city staff report, the upgrade requires the demolition of six on-campus buildings comprising slightly more than 8,000 square feet. Five new one-story buildings totaling more than 17,000 square feet would replace those buildings, Riches said. The plans also would add a two-lane driveway spanning the front of the school for a student drop-off and pickup area.
The administration building – the former home of Riches’ grandparents, Gwen and Victor Riches – would remain intact, as would the theater building, Riches said.
He noted that the upgrade is necessary because of the cramped environment and added that they redesigned the school in conformance with the “look and feel” of the surrounding residential neighborhood.
“We wanted to take into consideration the school’s needs and at the same time design a campus to meet the neighbors’ needs as well,” said Riches, who noted that the school does not intend to increase its current 175-student enrollment.
Riches said the school hosted five community meetings to discuss the design with surrounding residents and met individually with several in addition. The result, he said, includes a U-shaped design for the new buildings that should help shield the surrounding homes from noise pollution and resolve other concerns such as parking.
“We really collaborated with the neighbors and tried to solve screening, noise and queuing issues,” said Riches, adding that the plan calls for 29 onsite parking spaces and the closure of a school entrance on Bellevue Court to discourage student drop-offs there.
Still, the longtime Pinewood president concedes that not everyone is on board with the proposed upgrade.
Part of the redevelopment plan calls for the incorporation of an adjacent 0.89-acre residential property, which served as the former headmaster’s home. A handful of nearby residents, who want it to remain a residential lot, expressed concern.
Riches said the additional school-owned land is needed to accommodate the five new buildings and the elongated driveway. The alternative of building two-story structures on the campus’ current 1.5-acre lot is “a nonstarter,” he added.
If Pinewood receives final approval, it has a two-phase construction plan scheduled for the summer of 2014 with an estimated construction duration of 18 months.