Commission reviews plans for new school

Valley high school could be put out to bid in April

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2003

The Juneau Planning Commission had few questions for people presenting plans for the new Valley high school Tuesday night.

Five of the nine commissioners heard from city planners, architects and traffic engineers Tuesday. In February, the commission should consider a conditional-use permit for the high school and its associated auditorium and gymnasium at the Dimond Park Complex in the Mendenhall Valley, city planner Tim Maguire said.

"I definitely like what I'm seeing," Commissioner Marshal Kendziorek said after the presentations.

Jacqueline Fowler said she particularly liked the way the school is designed for possible expansion.

Architect Paul Voelckers of Minch Ritter Voelckers Architects explained that initial plans would accommodate 1,080 students. But additional classrooms could be built out of each wing, eventually to support a 1,500-student enrollment.

Plans for the school call for 218,700 square feet over two stories. Maguire said it could be put out to bid in April. Completion is projected for August 2006.

The project has a total budget of about $63 million, of which $49 million would go toward construction.

Most of the questions asked Tuesday concerned matters outside the school.

Commissioner Maria Gladzis-zewski asked about parking, noting that spaces for the Juneau Symphony concerts at Juneau-Douglas High School disappear in a hurry.

Architect Rich Ritter said the projected need for 662 parking spaces would take into account major events in the gymnasium and auditorium going on at the same time. He said the identified parking spaces total just more than 600, but an additional 48 spaces could be shared with the adjacent Dimond Park ballfields, where there are more than 200 parking spaces.

Commissioners also heard some ideas for changes to Riverside Drive and other area streets to handle increased traffic.

Mike Read, a Seattle-based traffic engineer working on the project, said many people use Riverside as a daily commuter route. With the addition of the school, the peak morning flows could almost double.

Ritter discussed thinning out trees around the school for safety and security reasons. Some large trees aren't stable, and branches on remaining trees will be trimmed to 10 feet, although they will hang down a couple of feet more.

"Nobody can hide in the bushes," Gladziszewski said.

Juneau School Superintendent Peggy Cowan told the Empire earlier that schools have had to be vigilant about students' security long before people became concerned about terrorism.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at

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