Just posted is an article by Pat McKee on the need for a traffic study before building the new Options High. The Bellingham School District basically cheated on filling out their non dertermination form for city planning. And our Bellingham Planning Department has helped to sneak this process through.
Sneak? Yes. Since we approved the levy in November of 2013 for a new Options High School building, the school district has communicated they planned to build a 200 student building. Until they could no longer keep the wraps on it at a hearing in late March of 2016. They were planning a 400 student school. The neighbors were shocked. The notices had not been clear on what was planned. Sort of like the KPLU radio sale charade where the Fight Club rule prevails. (Don't talk about it)
Now, tomorow on Wed, May 18, the Bellingham Hearing Examiner, Sharon Rice, will hear the school district request for a conditional use permit - without a traffic study. McKee's submitted statements (updated) will make the plea to the hearing examiner that a traffic study is needed. One reason is the school district feels only 67 parking spaces are needed - an absurdly low number considering students, staff and teachers. Let us hope she turns them down and asks for a proper traffic study with plans to accomodate the increased traffic and parking.
The school district assumes they will get not only the conditional use permit, but a green light to vacate the bicycle trail and half of Franklin Street. Assumes? Yes. Without permits, they have let out the construction bids, and on May 12 they opened them. Construction is scheduled to start in June. Oh - and they expect the city council to approve the street vacation on June 6.
I have been working hard on another story these past couple weeks and have not been able to write more about this school project. There is much that seems very wrong with this school plan. It appears the school district is warehousing poor students and those it expels from the three high schools. They do not have organized access to any outside recreation areas. No access to the Bellingham High fields.
I hope to post more articles about this Options High School. We all desire for all our young to get a good education. But it appears the Options High process is not that.