The Pleasanton Unified School District is exploring a possible parking solution for Amador Valley High School while a solar panel structure is being installed in the front parking lot later this year.
During the Board of Trustees' regular meeting on Tuesday night, PUSD staff shared an idea to use some areas and facilities at Amador Valley for temporary parking during construction when classes start again in the fall.
"A more recent idea is possibly parking on the blacktop between the gym and football field and using some of the tennis courts as on-site parking for primarily staff and possibly students," district facilities and construction director Nick Olsen said during a staff presentation that evening.
The Amador Valley parking lot facing Santa Rita Road is slated for reorientation and will lose more than 400 parking spaces for about 4-1/2 months when construction starts in June after school lets out for the summer.
Work is expected to last through October, and neighbors and the Amador Valley community are worried about how a lack of parking will affect their lives during that time. Only about 50 parking spaces for staff will be available on the first day of the 2019-20 school year, according to PUSD.
The idea to use the blacktop area and tennis courts came about as staff looked into using the junior varsity softball field and estimated that the blacktop could potentially accommodate 132 vehicles, according to Olsen.
Around 200 cars could be parked onsite if three tennis courts are used along with the blacktop; six tennis courts and the blacktop could park about 300 vehicles. An estimated $80,000 pricetag would also make refurbishing the tennis courts afterward less expensive than repair costs for the softball field.
Superintendent David Haglund and the trustees liked the idea, but he said the district needs to make sure they can still facilitate games for the girls tennis team at Amador Valley in the fall.
"Whether we're only allowed to use a certain number of tennis courts for this solution depends on whether we can get assistance from the city to use other tennis courts for the girls tournaments," Haglund said. "That's a conversation we have not had yet."
Other ideas like renting space at the Alameda County Fairgrounds parking lot have already been rejected for being too costly and posing liability concerns. Staff are still looking into private busing options and also hiring Bay Area Traffic Solutions to manage traffic.
The city is also considering adding loading and unloading zones on Del Valle and Black avenues.
Expediting construction work was also dismissed by Olsen as "very costly in such a short construction window and would only knock off about two weeks from the final completion date."
Families and neighbors have suggested delaying the project until next year, but Olsen said the district "would need to return approximately $1.14 million in Proposition 39 funds and miss out on savings from the project." PUSD would also owe payment for several contractors and consultants working on the project, and another school would also be affected.
"In order to do HVAC replacement at Pleasanton Middle School, we have to pair it with a more energy efficient project, which is solar," Olsen said, adding that the HVAC and solar panels "balanced out" to the state's energy ratio requirements for receiving the Prop 39 funds.
Trustee Mark Miller came to the meeting ready to recommend canceling the project but said he had second thoughts when Olsen mentioned the HVAC tie-in. "I'm tepid on this right now because it is just really, really a burden on this community," Miller said. "I want to be green but, man, this is hard."
Board President Valerie Arkin and Trustee Joan Laursen agreed that abandoning the project over short-term parking problems seemed short-sighted. Arkin and Laursen said they hope parents and students will consider walking, biking or carpooling to school until construction is done.
"It might not be the most convenient option for parents but it is only for two months," Arkin said. "We have some viable alternatives for kids to consider. Hopefully more kids will walk, more kids will bike and more kids will carpool. And that's better for the environment to begin with."
Students could also play an important part in persuading each other to find other ways to school besides driving.
"I'm hoping the leadership of students on campus will provide that little bit of peer pressure that will say ... 'We're doing our part for the good of the school,'" Laursen said. "I'm hoping there's going to be some of that energy among the peers. That will help ease the pain for the two months."
The district estimates that approximately $1.8 million in energy costs will be saved over the 25-year lifespan of the solar panel structure, while also enhancing pedestrian safety, providing covered parking and reducing the school's carbon footprint.