Patrick Robinson
The Genesee Hill school will be replaced with a new facility in 2015 if Seattle Schools BEX IV Levy passes in February. The building is currently not in use by SPS.

Genesee-Schmitz council seeking public input on future school

While Seattle School's infrastructure improvement levy will not be put to a vote until February 2013, the Genesee-Schmitz Neighborhood Council is taking an active role in helping the community shape a proposed new school on the Genesee Hill site as part of the levy package.

Seattle Public Schools, as part of the proposed BEX IV Levy, plans to build a new school on the Genesee Hill site (5012 S.W. Genesee St.) in West Seattle by 2015. They then plan to move the Schmitz Park Elementary staff and students to the new school, and plan to use the Schmitz Park site (5000 S.W. Spokane St.) for additional "elementary seats," although the specifics on what that means are unclear at this time.

Here is some additional information from the Genesee-Schmitz Neighborhood Council, including how to get involved in suggesting a vision for the new school:

GSNC is pleased to announce that Kerrie Schurr, the group’s Communications Chair, has been selected to represent the council on the Seattle School District’s Design Advisory Team for the new Genesee Hill school building (future location of the Schmitz Park program, if the capital levy passes in February). This is a great opportunity for the community to have input into the design considerations, either via the council or directly to the district at the Community Conversation for this project.

The Community Conversation will be held on Monday, November 19, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Schmitz Park Elementary School. A second Community Conversation will be held during the week of January 21 (details forthcoming).

At the short (1-hr.) GSNC meeting last Thursday evening, those in attendance came up with the initial list below of desired features for the new Genesee Hill school. Additional ideas may be submitted to gsncouncil@gmail.com by 5 p.m. Sunday, November 18.

1. Good traffic flow around the site for buses and cars, plus onsite parking

2. Indoor and outdoor meeting spaces that could be used by the community as well as the school

3. Garden with integrated community-school involvement (would build on current community garden)

4. Green space, preferably with preservation of native plants

5. Emergency location in event of a major disaster

6. Building to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified, preferably to Gold Standard (if budget allows)

7. Building scale and size to fit in with the neighborhood while minimizing the footprint to preserve green space

8. Good drainage on the property

9. A cistern under the building to capture water for garden use

One area that was overlooked in the discussions (but will likely be added) is optimizing safety and security at the site (i.e., designing in such a way as to discourage illegal activity such as drug dealing).

Some other ideas that were discussed and may warrant further consideration: Preserve the sledding hill; include electric car charging stations in the parking lot; preserve community access through the property. Two controversial areas that were discussed were whether to consider a dog park (but district/city rules would not allow it); and whether to keep the large evergreens (district staff see them as a safety concern in the event of windstorms). One meeting attendee pointed out that the trees were not there in 1965 when his children attended Genesee Hill School.

One possible area of concern: Whether the site has any soil contamination from the old Asarco smelter in Tacoma.

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