A concept to park several hundred cars on the Amador Valley High School tennis courts while a solar panel structure is built in the front parking lot during the start of the school year has sparked a backlash.
Some members of the Amador Valley athletic community have called the plan poorly conceived and are demanding that Pleasanton Unified School District go back to the drawing board after the idea of using school tennis courts as a temporary parking lot was introduced at Tuesday night's school board meeting.
“It is insulting for PUSD to propose turning AVHS tennis courts into a parking lot, however temporary that may be,” said Amador Valley boys tennis coach Danny Yee in an email to district administration including the Board of Trustees and Superintendent David Haglund.
Amador Valley girls tennis coach Claire Chinn, whose team plays during the fall and would be most directly impacted by the parking switch, commented in the same email chain, saying it does the “bright and resilient” student body no favors to “indulge them.”
“It concerns me that we are responsible for sending the students out into the world as capable adults, but indulge them as though they are not problem solvers and aren’t capable of tolerating frustrations,” Chinn said. “These are remarkable young people. Allow them to come up with their own solutions for transportation during this process. Honor them with a challenge.”
District spokesperson Patrick Gannon told the Weekly on Friday, “The one campus parking option was listed along with many others that were being investigated as potential solutions to minimize the impact of the project on the surrounding neighborhoods.”
“At this point, no decision has been made, and there are ongoing discussions with the city and school site focused on finding the best plan forward,” Gannon added.
More than 400 parking spaces will be out of commission for about 4-1/2 months while the Amador Valley parking lot facing Santa Rita Road is re-oriented and the structure is being installed. Approximately 50 parking spaces for staff will be available on the first day of the 2019-20 school year, according to PUSD.
Work is scheduled to begin in June after school lets out but expected to last through October, concerning many Amador Valley neighbors and families about how the loss of parking will affect everyone.
The possibility of parking on the campus blacktop between the gym and football field in addition to using the tennis courts for primarily staff and possibly student parking came about when a similar idea to use the junior varsity softball fields was recently floated but rejected.
The blacktop could possibly park around 132 vehicles, according to district facilities and construction staff. An estimated 200 or more vehicles could park on campus if the blacktop area and three tennis courts are used; the blacktop and six tennis courts could fit an additional 100 vehicles.
Refurbishing the tennis courts for an estimated $80,000 would be less expensive than repairing the softball field, according to PUSD. But Amador Valley tennis members and supporters called tearing up the courts “disrespectful” to community members who privately donated to help maintain their facilities when the district did not have the funds.
“(Former tennis coach) Don Anger donated approximately $80,000 to have the courts resurfaced just two years ago,” said Susana and Peter Krulevitch in an email. “We find it so disrespectful to him and his family to have the tennis courts destroyed to accommodate parking for three months. What message does this send to the Anger family and other community members that invest in our schools?”
“There must be other options to consider, such as remote parking with shuttle buses, or additional bus routes,” they said, and also questioned where the girls tennis team would practice and hold matches during that time, and whether PUSD would pay for alternate facilities and transportation to those sites.
Private busing or contracting with Bay Area Traffic Solutions for traffic management are being explored but staff said other ideas like renting parking space at the nearby Alameda County Fairgrounds would cost too much and present liability issues. The city is also considering adding loading and unloading zones on Del Valle and Black avenues.
Delaying construction isn’t possible because of the Proposition 39 funding deadlines tied to the project, according to PUSD staff, who previously said expediting work was also previously written off as “very costly in such a short construction window and would only knock off about two weeks from the final completion date."
The total project is estimated to cost about $650,000, which will come from Prop 39 funding. The district would save approximately $1.8 million in energy costs over the 25-year lifespan of the solar panel structure, while also improving pedestrian safety, providing covered parking and reducing the school's carbon footprint.