John Gartman | Pine Needles Drive
First, community member Rolf Silbert (who happens to be a design engineer par excellence) said “enough is enough,” by unveiling a promising and thoughtful school site design alternative at the January district board meeting. Rolf’s design preserves 80% of the historical community playfields (130,000 square feet) without altering the district’s new school facilities design or educational program in any way. While Rolf’s work may not be the full answer yet, it does show that with continued focus, creativity and collaboration, better answers are out there – answers that better serve the teachers, students, and our Greater Del Mar community.
Rolf’s design not only saves most of our historical fields, but leverages existing community infrastructure and improves site safety from a traffic, emergency, and fire perspective. It’s clear Rolf put hundreds of hours of sweat into his design, evidence of great community spirit. To learn more about the thinking behind the design and to see it in pictures, see the front page of our website at playoutsidedelmar.org. The board promised the district would take a look at Rolf’s new design, and we look forward to hearing from them at the February 26th meeting.
Second, the district itself unveiled a new design that moved in a positive direction. By removing unneeded space between buildings, the district’s latest design increases the fields (from their December design) from 59,000 square feet to 78,000 square feet (which they overstate as 92,000 by including hard walk-paths, garden, etc.). It’s definitely a step in the right direction, and we were encouraged to see some movement after months of pushback from current Heights’ parents and the community.
Today, we have just over 300,000 square feet of outdoor grass play fields in Greater Del Mar – the Heights (160,000), the Hills (110,000) and Shores Park (50,000). The 52,000 square foot difference between Rolf’s design and the district’s design is significant and needed. Let’s also not forget that the Department of Education says a school the size of Del Mar Heights needs a field of 140,000 square feet. Rolf’s design gets the school closer to meeting the minimum field size requirement. For further perspective, the proposed school buildings are almost double the minimum Department of Education requirement per pupil.
Let’s continue to work to save the play area – for the children of today and tomorrow.