The latest step in improvement plans for Roosevelt Elementary School involved the community, as project developers spoke to local stakeholders at the school on Sept. 27. The planning meeting was scheduled as part of the scoping process, looking at the environmental impact construction will potentially have.
Discussing environmental findings, along with the latest campus plan, was part of a process required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Having CEQA compliance identifies ways to avoid and reduce environmental damage in planning the multi-phase campus improvement project.
The proposed campus plan, laid out at the meeting by DSK Architects, is currently scheduled for five phases. The first phase would include construction of a new one-story classroom building for transitional kindergarten and kindergarten students, along with various improvements, like a dedicated outdoor learning space and a separate drop-off and pickup for TK-K students along 9th Street.
New Roosevelt principal Dr. Amy Onyendu said that the new classrooms for TK-K students will include their own restrooms and work space, and that the spaces will be “crucial for nurturing potential” of students just beginning their journey at Roosevelt.
“Our upgraded facilities will create modern, flexible learning spaces that promote collaboration, critical thinking and creativity,” Onyendu said.
Phase one is also proposed to include a relocation of the library, as well as the creation of a main entryway to the school campus along Montana Avenue. Future phases would have such construction efforts as a rebuild of the campus’ central quad, which would separate the athletics arm of the campus from academic areas.
Onyendu added that the construction would help extend Roosevelt’s role beyond academics, emphasizing the use of the campus as a community hub and a cornerstone of growth.
“Together, we are crafting a learning environment that will empower our students with the skills and adaptability that they need to excel in an ever-evolving world,” she said.
At the meeting was Jennifer Wu, a senior environmental planner with Michael Baker International. The organization drafted an initial environmental study for the project, taking into account a checklist of subcategories to be studied in an official environmental impact report. Between the initial study and the final report are several public comment periods, with the current comment period running through October 20. Comments can be submitted to Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Chief Operations Officer Carey Upton at email@example.com.
Wu stated that some of the subcategories were found to have no or insignificant impacts by potential construction. Among the categories with no impact were agricultural and mineral resources, and those with insignificant impact included biological resources and utilities.
Topics that will be analyzed in the impact report include air quality, energy use, hazardous material use and cumulative impacts to the campus and surrounding areas.
During public comment, concerns were raised by a representative of the Santa Monica Conservancy, wanting to know if the project will be protective of historic resources on the campus. Other environmental questions raised included residents wanting to make sure that hazardous materials will not linger from the demolition process of old buildings, as well as the preservation of eucalyptus trees and trumpet vines on the northeast corner of the school.
Funding for the design of phase one will come from Measure SMS but construction will require additional money.