The Mill Valley School District's $3.7 million modernization project for Tam Valley Elementary School got its latest unveiling Tuesday night, but the approximately 25 people that attended the meeting at the school primarily focused on the few hundred yards leading up to the school.
The design plans for the campus overhaul were displayed by Van Pelt Construction Services, which is overseeing design and construction of the project, but the public input was dominated by how the proposed changes will accommodate children and parents entering and exiting the 350 Bell Lane site by bicycle, foot or car.
"There is a growing movement in Tam Valley of parents getting their children to ride to school," said David Hoffman, director of planning for Marin County Bicycle Coalition. "What is the plan for folks coming down Bell Lane?"
The meeting was the latest in a series designed to solicit public input on several school campus redesigns funded by the $59.8 million Measure C bond approved by voters in November 2009. Approximately half of bond funds will be spent on a new Edna Maguire Elementary School campus while other campus facelifts will take place at Old Mill, Strawberry Point and Park elementary schools through 2013.
Designers noted an entrance sidewalk was widened from five to eight feet and additional bicycle parking was included based on previous public feedback, but they were limited on other changes due to funding and property line limitations.
Bicycle parking is expected to accommodate about a quarter of the nearly 500 current students, according to the design team.
Pete Norgaard of Van Pelt Construction Services said he was hopeful what was presented Tuesday would get the thumbs up from the Mill Valley School District Board of Trustees at their Sept. 14 meeting.
"We anticipate a recommendation from staff that (the board) approve the design as it stands," he said, noting the 11-week-long project was scheduled to begin June 13. "We need to get this project ready to bid for the spring."
Tuesday's audience was equal parts parents, Tam Valley neighbors and activists for county-affiliated causes. Requests were made to add crosswalks, elongated speed bumps and other measures to the Bell Lane entrance to the school for added safety precautions.
One parent praised other parts of the campus renovation, but described the situation of bicyclists going against drivers on the small section of Bell Lane between the school and the Enterprise Concourse intersection as "salmon going upstream."
Hoffman noted that Tam Valley was one of the first schools in the nation in 2000 to become involved with the Safe Routes to School program.
"This (school) was a leader 10 years ago," he said. "You still have the opportunity to do what's best for bikes and pedestrians."
District and project proponents said they've been in discussion with county officials about the issue. Maureen Parton, aide to county Supervisor Charles McGlashan, said at Tuesday's meeting that it'd be difficult to get funding to address changes on that small strip of road anytime soon.
Linda Johnson, a member of the Tamalpais Community Services District board who lives near the school, said crosswalks are being planned near the school. She also said the district provides parking at its nearby lot to encourage more parents to walk with their children to and from school.
"What is it going to take to get people out of their cars," Johnson said. "We need to make it safer for walkers and bikers."
Norgaard said the design team's goal over the past few months was to listen to community input. He also said the project was currently over budget.
"We can continue to explore the comments we heard this evening," he said.