Park City School District to hold community meeting on master plan
June 26, 2015
The Park City School District is scheduled to hold a community meeting Monday to seek public opinion on a master planning project that could result in a substantial bond on the ballot in November and is eliciting concern from some residents.
The project, whose details have not been finalized, goes along with the district realigning its grade structure, beginning in the 2016-2017 school year. The four elementary schools will house preschool through fourth grade, while an upper elementary school will hold fifth and sixth grade. Ecker Hill Middle School will house seventh- and eighth- graders, and Park City High School will comprise grades nine through 12.
To accommodate that structure, the district needs to build an upper elementary school, as well as an addition to the high school so it can house ninth grade. The aging Treasure Mountain Junior High, which has been plagued by problems since its construction, is seen as needing to be demolished as part of the plans. Additional projects have been included as a result of the master planning process, as well.
In May, the district invited select members of the community to three meetings to help choose a favored proposal for the project, which includes two phases but has not been finalized.
Phase one, to be completed by the fall of 2017, includes (preliminary cost estimates, totaling $49.5 million, in parenthesis):
- Demolish Treasure Mountain Junior High ($525,000)
- Relocate Dozier Field to junior high site ($3.2 million)
- Expand Park City High School ($19.5 million)
- Build upper elementary school on Ecker Hill campus ($26.2 million)
Phase two, whose completion is yet to be determined (no preliminary costs available):
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- Expand McPolin Elementary School to accommodate enrollment growth
- Potentially build athletic fieldhouse near new football field
- Potentially build new district office and repurpose existing building
- Potentially repurpose Park City Learning Center
- Potentially expand Ecker Hill community pool
- Potentially build district storage warehouse)
Rory Murphy, co-chair of the district’s master planning committee, said the committee is still in the process of refining and prioritizing those plans and deciding which aspects make financial sense, adding many of the projects may not actually happen. He said the committee is holding Monday’s meeting (as well as two others in July) to elicit and incorporate public feedback.
"It’s really just a listening session for us," he said.
The committee is scheduled to present its final plan to the Board of Education August 11, with the Board voting whether to approve the plan the following week.
Two informal community meetings have been held in recent weeks in the Prospector and Park Meadows neighborhoods, during which residents raised several concerns, Murphy said.
Residents worried about the effects moving Dozier Field would have on the neighborhood, such the noise on game days, the stadium lighting shining near their homes and parking issues the field would create. They also expressed concern over the cost of the move, given it would mean tearing up the current stadium that is in good condition.
"I think the concerns really are focused on the proximity of Dozier to people’s homes," Murphy said. "Secondary to that are the costs of relocation. I think the actual physical, tangible impacts are what has people concerned."
Murphy said residents were also concerned with the preliminary costs of the overall project — $49.5 million for phase one, of which the district would pay roughly $15 million from its capital reserves, according to district documents. Depending on the finalized plan the committee recommends to the school board in August, the district could ask voters for a substantial bond on Election Day.
Jess Reid, a Park City businessman who has lived in town for 38 years and who hosted one of the community meetings, said there is also a sense in the community the district has not done nearly enough to justify the plans to the public. He said the three upcoming community meetings are not enough.
"A lot of community members feel like they’re really trying to fast-track this and get this up for a bond election this fall," Reid said. " The district is saying, ‘We’re going to have three public hearings,’ but do they really care? They can say they had these hearings, but is it (just for show)?"
Murphy disagreed, saying the district has done its due diligence throughout the process and will continue to do so. However, he added, it is apparent the district has not engaged the community as much as it needs to.
"We’ve tried from the beginning to disseminate this information, but I understand that if you don’t read it or you don’t hear it, then you don’t know it," he said. "Our efforts to hire a communications person were for that reason alone. We’re trying to reach as broad an audience as we can, given the number of constituent groups that are going to be affected by any decision we make.
"You want people to understand," he added. "For whatever reason, we don’t seem to be as effective at that as we probably need to be. And it isn’t for a lack of trying."
Monday’s community meeting will be held at 3:30 p.m. at the district office, at 2700 Kearns Blvd. A meeting July 6 will is set to be held at Ecker Hill Middle School, 2465 W. Kilby Road, at 5:30 p.m. while a third meeting is scheduled July 21 at 6 p.m. at the high school, 1750 Kearns Blvd.
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