Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Neighborhood Quality of Life Issues by Bevan Wulfenstein

This is the presentation Bevan Wulfenstein gave at the Rivergrove Neighborhood Meeting May 9th, 2012:

Recently Freedom Academy announced its plans to extend its current campus to include a high school.

The Freedom Academy Governing Board and School Administration listed 5 supporting reasons for the decision to build a high school next to the existing grade school. In my experience the strongest arguments are often listed last. Item 5 in the list states “If we don’t expand this year, credibility of the school may be placed in jeopardy.” Following this line of reasoning then the real motivating factor for the decision was to not lose credibility. Making decisions to save face are usually made by managers who feel out of control. They don’t want others to think they are not in control or that they have made a mistake. As we see in this case, decisions made to “save face” often just add fuel to the fire. The emotional need to be right overtakes good business sense.

Freedom Academy director Lynne Herring recently said “Freedom is a member of this neighborhood. We have no desire to foul our own nest.” I understand the principle she articulates, but her actions are indeed fowling her nest.

There are a number of reasons it makes no sense to build a high school directly adjacent to a grade school. Most of these reasons have been very well articulated. For me however, safety and quality of life for both students and the neighborhood should take priority over convenience or saving face by Freedom Academy Governing Board members and the School Administration.

Safety: The existing infrastructure was never designed to handle the current high traffic load already imposed by Freedom Academy.  The road isn’t wide enough to handle peak demands resulting in long lines and frustrated residents and parents. There have been a number of close calls where children were nearly run over.

Sidewalks don’t exist in some areas forcing kids to either walk on lawns on in the street.

There are no marked cross walks forcing kids to take their chances crossing roads at peak demand times.

Grade school kids are at risk from bullying and worse from high school kids located on the same campus.

Quality of life: The neighborhood quality of life has suffered considerably since Freedom Academy was built. Building a high school will further diminish the quality of life in an already stressed neighborhood. As neighbors we have tried to endure and make do, but we can’t be silent any longer.

Long lines of cars along 900 north and adjacent streets twice a day are difficult to deal with. A high school and more students will make the lines considerably worse.

Many kids take shortcuts across neighborhood lawns wearing trails though grass.

Property damage and theft has increased sharply since Freedom Academy became a part of the neighborhood. We can only believe these problems will increase again with the addition of a high school.

Please don’t make decisions to save face. . .or that foul your own nest. Find another location for the high school.

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