LETTER | Houghton neighbors oppose ICS High School rebuild

Dear Views,

The LWSD would like to tear down and rebuild an expanded ICS High School and the smaller elementary school on a new foot print on its school site in Houghton at NE 65th and 111th Ave NE. Most of the neighbors oppose this project. We oppose this redevelopment for a variety of reasons: some residents will loose the views they paid dearly for, some will be impacted by traffic more than others, some are concerned about the impact of a year long construction project (which will begin with the importing or exporting of 52,000 cubic yards of soil or 5,000 truck round trips), some don't get the reason for spending 16 million dollars to replace a perfectly good structure and some are unhappy with government and the clandestine way the project has unfolded (one government entity serving another government entity with little consideration for the citizens they are both supposed to be serving).

This ICS High School has had a contentious relationship with this neighborhood since 1999 when at the last minute the neighbors discovered that the district was planning to close the existing school and move a regional ICS high school onto the site. Only with the 12th hour intervention of the Houghton Community Council did an operating agreement between the district and the neighbors get developed and signed by all. Now the district wants to vacate that agreement unilaterally. The district has known from the beginning they were going to have trouble with this neighborhood. So with the seeming cooperation of the city council and planning department they have gotten everything they need and avoided anything but the appearance of openness. Schools operated on Single Family zoned land by code cannot be "materially detrimental" to the neighborhood they are sited in. We contend the new school will be beyond materially detrimental and thus should not be allowed a building permit for anything other than a remodel. Now they just have to get over the Houghton Community Council hurdle and they'll be home free.

This site is zoned Single Family and is not served by the arterial street system or public transportation. This is a regional high school. Students come from the cities of Sammamish, Redmond and Kirkland. Most of the students are transported by their parents daily thru our neighborhood. The school district says there are currently 1,150 car trips per day which is more traffic than the entire neighborhood generates. The existing school is a 48,000 Square Foot structure and will be replace with a 64,000 SF structure an increase of 40%. Traffic should increase proportionally to around 1,500 cars per day.

The Single Family zoning of the site allows schools. This site was originally developed for a neighborhood elementary school . Until recently a school in this zoning category had to be located on a "collector or arterial street". ICS is on neither so it would not have qualified for a building permit. Many of us feel the City Council and Planning Dept pulled some midnight trickery to eliminate this zoning condition thus opening the door for the school district to get a building permit.

We don't oppose the existing ICS or remodeling the ICS but we do oppose a complete tear down and rebuild of a larger growing regional school. If it is going to torn down anyhow then why not rebuild it on one of the other sites the district already owns that is served by an arterial street and public transportation? The public hearing on this development is Tuesday, January 10th, City Hall, 6:30pm.



Jerry Forell