Park City High School expansion plans nearly ready for input | ParkRecord.com

Park City High School expansion plans nearly ready for input

The Park City School District is getting ready to reveal three design options to the public for an expansion of Park City High School. Bob OConnor, principal of the school, says the plans do not require Dozier Field to be moved, a concession to the residents who were upset about the possibility of tearing down the field during last years bond campaign.

Three potential plans for expanding Park City High School are nearly ready for their big reveal.

For months, a Park City School District committee has been working to find the best solution for expanding the high school, and the firm VCBO Architecture is finalizing three designs to show off to residents in a series of community forums.

The designs are not yet public, but faculty at the high school got their first look at the renderings Thursday. Bob O'Connor, principal of the high school and a member of the expansion committee, said VCBO will take into account the faculty's input and tweak the designs before revealing them to the public.

"I'm pleased with the options," he said.

The district is set to hold a series of meetings in the coming months for the public to offer its input on the designs. The first is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 13, at the district office.

O'Connor said the three designs share a number of features. All include additional space for science labs and new athletic facilities to replace the aging, small gymnasium. At least one of the plans calls for an athletic facility to be built on the site of the current baseball field. Another would place it at the south end of the school, with the current gym turned into two levels of classrooms.

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Additionally, the fine arts and performing arts programs are slated to receive big boosts in space in all three plans.

"They need it," O'Connor said. "The dance program has taken off. The bands and orchestra have taken off. The facility for fine arts was built and finished in 1997, and we didn't have half those programs."

All three designs also include enough new classroom space for ninth graders to move into the school, a shift that has been planned since last year.

Notably, none of the plans call for a new wing to stretch onto Dozier Field, which would necessitate tearing down the field, O'Connor said. That was a primary point of contention last fall during the district's controversial bond campaign that included a westward expansion of the high school. The new plans are more closely aligned with the school's current footprint.

Voters ultimately rejected the bond by a wide margin, largely because of the Dozier Field issue, causing the district to undergo the current round of expansion planning.

"I think the committee has addressed the concerns that came from the bond failure," he said. "… We listened to the community. There was concern about building out on Dozier and relocating the football field."

O'Connor said keeping Dozier Field in place will likely help the district garner support for the expansion, but it will come with one drawback. Doing construction close to current classrooms will disrupt classes much more than building a new wing west of the school would have, he said.

"With what we're going to do now, it's going to be a huge disruption," he said. "It's tough to attend class while there's a jackhammer going off in the basement. But a lot of schools get remodeled, and you just have to put up with it."

After holding at least three community forums for public input, the Park City Board of Education is scheduled to choose a final option in February, then decide how to finance the project in March. Even if the board decides to issue another bond election, construction could begin as early as the summer using the district's capital reserves.

O'Connor, for one, is excited for the work to commence. He said the expansion will ultimately make the high school a better place for students to learn and for teachers to teach. He anticipates that even residents who rejected the bond last year will feel similarly this time around.

In addition to the Dec. 13 meeting, public forums are scheduled for Jan. 11 and Feb. 12.

"We're hoping to get as much public input as we can," he said. "We want to clearly communicate what we've designed to the community in an effort to make everyone happy. … Last time, the process wasn't perfect, we made some mistakes and I think some people, rightfully so, were concerned about what was proposed."

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