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Private School Offers City $1 Million to Build on Davis Drive

Crystal Springs Uplands School has increased its offer to the City of Belmont to a one-time payment of $1 million, plus $250,000 per year, but one city councilmember says no amount of money will convince her that Davis Drive is the right location for the

The pencils of the (CSUS) board of directors have been sharpened even further as the board urges the to approve its proposal to build a 47,000 square foot private, independent middle school campus on

In a newly issued development agreement submitted earlier this week to the city, the CSUS board of directors is offering a $1 million, one-time payment and an annual payment of $250,000 to offset the that would be paid to the city by a for-profit business on the site, 6 and 8-10 Davis Dr.

To view the Development Agreement document, click on the PDF file to the right of this article.

 “We heard the about money so we’ve increased our annual payment offer from $175,000 to $250,000,” said Andrea Edwards, CSUS development director.

As a nonprofit organization, Crystal Springs Uplands School is tax-exempt; its offer of a $250,000 annual payment is to make up for lost tax revenue.

Edwards added that the revised amount should be enough to make up for tax revenues lost to the (BRSSD).

The city and Belmont Fire Protection District earn about $40,000 a year in property taxes currently from the vacant property. BRSSD and other taxing agencies get another $100,000 or so in property taxes from the property.

 “This new agreement makes the project a ‘fiscal positive,’” said Edwards.

But says that there’s no amount of money that will make the project fly on the proposed site.

“Yes, it’s a good offer, but it’s not going to make any difference to me because the school site is in the wrong place. And if something is wrong, you can’t pay to fix it,” said Feierbach.

 “This project will directly impact the surrounding neighborhoods and I put neighborhoods first,” she added.

Feierbach says that when it comes to voting on projects proposed by entities such as schools, it’s difficult for the council to be objective.

“We went through this with and ,” Feierbach said, referring to past projects that came before the council and were divisive to the city, the neighborhoods and the schools involved.

“The turned most of the the CSUS proposal down, and it was very difficult for them. We should have stopped this project a long time ago.”

“It takes so much energy and it’s always very controversial because schools, sports, churches--are sacrosanct. The council can deal with a business like or , but because we are dealing with schools---and children—it’s very difficult.  I’m a grandparent and I know how hard it is.”

Feierbach said she would support CSUS’s move to Belmont but to a different location, such as to an area on the east side of Highway 101.

Other councilmembers either declined to comment on this proposal prior to the meeting, or were unavailable for comment.

The new agreement was devised following the of the Belmont Planning Commission, when the seven-member panel recommended that the city council not approve the development deal that would have guaranteed the city $175,000 annually, in addition to a $100,000 one-time payment.

The commission also did not recommend amending the city’s general plan and did not recommend changing the zoning laws to allow for institutional use on the property currently zoned for commercial.

Currently, the proposed site is comprised of approximately 83,000 square feet of commercial/office and warehouse buildings. The buildings, owned by Cengage Learning, have been vacant for several years. CSUS's proposal calls for the demolition of the current buildings and construction of the middle school with a gymnasium, theater, and multi-purpose room, parking lot,and an all-weather synthetic turf playing field. The development agreement allows the city use of the playing field on weekends and for three weeks each summer.

In addition to additional funding, the revised development agreement addressed the commission and residents’ concerns about noise, specifically the noise that would be associated with a swimming pool that the school plans to add in a year or so. Under the new agreement, a swimming pool would be completely enclosed, thus mitigating any noise concerns by residents.

, many of whom live in the neighborhoods surrounding the Davis Drive complex, have complained that the school would add too much traffic and bring too much noise to the hillside area off of Ralston Avenue.

Edwards said that there are detailed plans in place to mitigate any traffic issues caused by the 240 students and staff members arriving and departing the school each day.

“If certain things occur, we have an insurance bond that will handle things such as traffic spilling out of the turning lanes,” Edwards said.

Edwards says that CSUS school officials want the citizens of Belmont to know they look forward to being part of the community.

“This is a remarkable opportunity for CSUS to make an immediate positive impact on the Belmont,” Edwards said.

The Belmont City Council will hear the proposal and make a final determination on the project at it’s September 11 meeting.

 

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Annie September 02, 2012 at 05:58 AM
I couldn't agree with you more. It isn't just about the money. This also brings to light the traffic problem at Ralston Middle School, a light needs to be installed to be used for school hours. They already have a light on Davis Drive, so that traffic won't be as impacted as much as the traffic for the children going to Ralston. You need to show up to the City Council Meeting with all of your friends. As stated above, a very small vocal group that opposes this will all be there. September 11 is the date for this meeting. It isn't just Mrs. Feierbach, it is the council.
Member September 02, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Jonathan and Annie, one of the reasons we are saying NO to the CSUS Project is because of the Ralston/Davis Dr Intersection. Within a 15 min time frame two left turn signals have to happen: one for incoming traffic from Eastbound and one from outgoing traffic going Westbound. The Eastbound turn pocket holds only 4 cars, so the light has to turn very frequently. Last Thu at 7.45 AM I turned left out of Davis Dr Westbound to encounter already Ralston Middle School traffic. Six cars were lined up to turn left and the last one spilled out of the left turn lane and blocked the inside through lane. You can only imagine with the projected 81 cars making this left turn within 15 min. The Mitigated Negative Declaration calls for Traffic Improvements when things don't work well. When are we going to make those traffic improvements? Wait a full year till all schools are in summer session? This site is not a good fit for CSUS.
Bob Cancilla September 06, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Last evening (Wednesday) both my wife and I each received a telephone call from a company apparently hired by CSUS to survey Belmont residents on their feelings of CSUS moving into the site on Davis Drive. The two questions asked of us was, "how long have you lived in Belmont" and "do you support CSUS building a new school on the proposed site on Davis Drive", our answer was a definite NO. Other residents will be probably be hearing from this company in the near future. Your opinion on this issue is very important to all of the residents of Belmont. This is a great opportunity for you to voice your opinion, whatever it is.
Jay Hartman September 11, 2012 at 03:12 AM
I'm going to have to agree with the arguments regarding traffic on Ralston Avenue. Traffic is a nightmare beginning at 7am through 9am, Monday through Friday from 280 all the way south to El Camino. Having to allow half an hour to get up or down the hill is already crazy. I've even been unable to get off of my street in any direction (Continentals) due to an accident happening at the same time as morning school rush. And if the new school proves to add even more traffic, when would the fix happen? After the school year? And then the improvements make traffic even worse on Ralston as the construction happens. And the benefit of having the soccer field? That's nice, however our school systems are destroying arts and science programs. Sports have never had any issue raising funds, particularly on the Peninsula. How about allowing community groups to have access to arts and computer resources instead? And currently only 90 students at the school are from Belmont? If most of the students are from outside Belmont, perhaps the smarter move is to create the school where the majority of the students live. Why move to a city so much further away? Imagine if we told Hillsborough we wanted to build a school for primarily Belmont students in their backyard. Would never happen. Sorry, but to me there's to many things here that scream "privileged" and not "good neighbor." If you can't take care of things staying in your own city, that's not Belmont's problem to fix. Jay Hartman
Annie September 11, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Jay, I leave at 7:00am each morning, I have a schedule that takes me to 280 and Redwood Shores on alternate days. Both ways if I leave at 7:00, no problem, like a Sunday morning. At 7:30 it gets worse and 7:45 it is getting worse. Crystal Springs will start at 7:45am. (correct me if I am wrong). I don't believe that an accident happens every morning on Continentals. Go 101 and that is closer to the truth. I don't know if you have children in school or not, but sports are very important in this community. Why would you say sports doesn't have a problem raising money. I know my kids used to sell chocolate bars to raise money for baseball. I don't think that raises a lot of money, they also sold all kinds of things when they were in Belmont schools to raise money, wrapping paper, magazines etc, The parents raise more money for schools then sports. I may be wrong again, but don't we have plenty of Arts programs on the peninsula, I also know you can take computer classes at San Mateo High School for a nominal fee. Private Schools now draw people from all over the Peninsula and San Francisco, not just a particular city. I know families that live in San Francisco and send their child to schools on the Peninsula and people living on the Peninsula sending their children to school in San Francisco all the way to San Jose. Hillsborough doesn't have land to build a school, this is why they were looking for another location. What is privileged about this proposition?

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