Neighbors applaud Odle Middle School's redesign

The latest site plan for the reconstruction of Odle Middle School was deemed applause-worthy by Imperial East Neighborhood residents at a public meeting Jan. 9. The approval came after the meeting’s introduction, when the Bellevue School District demonstrated it had addressed a number of problems with the campus’ site renovation, scheduled for this summer.

Odle is the last among phase two of the district’s capital construction projects campaign, funded by a $545 million bond approved by voters in 2008.

Planning by Integrus Architecture began in summer 2012. By summer 2013, Imperial East neighbors had become concerned by plans to open Northeast Fourth Street, a dead end road near the campus’ south end, to vehicle traffic.

“As planned, the school will increase in size from 700 to 1,200 students,” read a neighborhood letter submitted to the Bellevue City Council on July 18. “This increase in student population, coupled with the planned opening of the vehicle entrance on (Northeast Fourth Street), will have a significant detrimental impact to the tranquility and quality of life of the Imperial East neighborhood.”

The letter, signed by residents of 75 households, listed hazards to children, other pedestrians and the road itself, argued to be too narrow for constant two-way traffic and containing no unobstructed paths to the proposed access road. The letter came attached with photos listing blind spots.

The district and city scheduled a public information meeting at Odle for Jan. 9 to present its latest site plans. Residents anticipated continuing to fight opening of the access road, according to Imperial East Vice President Phil Petra in email contact with the Reporter. But after the opening presentation, they were pleasantly surprised to discover Integrus had removed the Northeast Fourth opening from its site plan. All vehicle traffic would instead come in from the 143rd Avenue Northeast offshoot of Northeast Eighth Street. Congestion on those roads would be mitigated by a sixfold expanded drop-off zone around the parking lot, and a branching bus road and cul-de-sac to be wrapped around the east and south of the school.

The next step for the capital project is an as-yet unscheduled public hearing, the testimony of which will go before the city council for consideration of a conditional use permit.


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