Neighbors Oppose Plans to Move School Next Door
Yakima, WA - Thursday, October 4th
Some people who live along River Road in Yakima aren't too excited about a new school moving in next door.
They have concerns about traffic and pollution.
A 90-thousand square foot building will go on a 15-acre lot. The Yakima School District will spend $39 million in state money to build a campus for the YV Technical Skills Center, but reaction from neighbors hasn't been too friendly since hearing the news.
"We love being on a lake," says Dan Dittmar, who live at Willow Lake Condos, "There are very few places in Yakima, in fact only two, where you can live on a lake."
But his serene lifestyle on Lake Aspen came to crashing halt when he heard about a new neighbor, which he will be able to see from his backyard.
"The traffic is going to be horrendous. It really seems like a poor location to put something like this."
Residents have already been dealing with construction on River Road for the past year.
"The review says 500 students," says Dittmar, pointing to the SEPA Review prepared by the city.
According to the SEPA Review, 500 students will amount to 2,100 additional drivers each day on River Road. But Ditmar says the numbers don't add up because 800 students go to YV-Tech right now and they are expecting up to 1,200 students at the new campus.
He is also worried about the impact all the construction and vehicles could have on the lake and its surrounding wetlands.
"Education is the cleanest industry you can have," says Craig DeWhite, Director of YV Tech.
Dewhite says they are going to build a campus that will look like a park.
The building will be 100-feet away from the lake.
And students don't go there full-time, so there won't be more than 350 students at the school at one time.
"This should be embraced. No local tax dollars are going to this."
DeWhite says the school district spends $100,000 a year leasing space for YV Tech all over Yakima. This facility will save money in the long run and consolidate all the programs on to one campus. It's great deal for city taxpayers like his new neighbors.
The city is expected to rule on the environmental review any day now.
A public hearing on this issue has to be rescheduled. It was originally supposed to be early next month.