Park City Board of Education chooses design for high school expansion
Remodel will not require moving Dozier Field
The Park City Board of Education has picked a design for a long-awaited expansion of Park City High School.
At a public meeting last week, the board voted 3-2 to select design option 3A, one of two possibilities still on the table after a months-long process involving a special committee and public outreach to whittle down the selections. Julie Eihausen and Petra Butler voted against the measure.
Under option 3A, the high school would look drastically different when work is completed. The project includes an extension of the classroom space to the south of the current building, cutting into the parking lot. Additionally, the west wing of the building would be demolished, replaced by a physical education and athletics facility stretching south alongside Dozier Field. The north end of that new wing would include space for the career and technical education programs, while the area where the gymnasium currently sits would be remodeled into an expansion of the common area and performing arts facilities.
Notably, the school renovation allows for Dozier Field to remain where it is, west of the school. In 2015, a plan to move the field became a contentious part of an unsuccessful bond campaign that would have funded an expansion of the high school. The other final option the school board considered this time around, called 4A, would have required moving the field to the east side of the Kearns Boulevard campus.
Option 3A had more support than 4A from the PCHS expansion committee that worked for months to help an architectural firm, VCBO Architecture, come up the design possibilities. Phil Kaplan, the board’s president, said at the meeting that it was apparent 3A had drawn the favor of residents who have been engaged in the process, as well.
“3A is clearly the one that has the best community consensus around it,” he said.
However, both Eihausen and Butler expressed concern about 3A. Eihausen explicitly favored 4A for a number of reasons because she said the design includes fewer negatives for the students who will be learning in the building. She said option 3A will mean a loss of natural light, will likely cause congestion in the two main classroom wings and will exacerbate the school’s already-strained parking situation.
“All of those are very student impactful,” she said.
While the board ultimately voted to move forward with design 3A, several members said they were worried about its growing price tag. VCBO initially told the board the project would cost roughly $64 million but revised that number to $68 million for last week’s meeting. The additional cost would cover things such as updating the lighting at Dozier Field, renovating the kitchen and food serving areas and renovating current classrooms to make them closer to the quality of the new classrooms.
“We haven’t even approved it, and (the cost) is growing,” said board member Andrew Caplan before the vote to choose 3A.
Whitney Ward, an associate with VCBO who has helped oversee the PCHS expansion design, said the firm expects the $68 million to be sufficient for the project, even if unforeseen needs arise during construction.
In addition to choosing a high school design, the school board voted on what it will seek to include in a bond measure this fall that is expected to approach, or exceed, $100 million. As well as the expansion, the bond money would be used to fund a new school for fifth- and sixth-graders and the acquisition of land for future school sites.
The board also discussed the process for selecting a site for the fifth- and sixth-grade school, including forming a committee modeled after the one that formulated the PCHS expansion designs. The goal is to get enough work done in the next few months to begin presenting options to the public this summer.
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There was a common theme in every address delivered during the Park City High School Class of 2021 graduation ceremony Thursday: gratitude.