New Thornton Creek Elementary School – UPDATE

School is underway and the kids are back at Thornton Creek Elementary School in the old Decatur Building.  As you likely know though, the Thornton Creek Elementary program will be relocating to a new building at the start of the 2016 school year which will be constructed on the southwest corner of the Thornton Creek Elementary School campus (40th Ave NE & NE 77th St) while the old Decatur building and parking is to remain. (The District has not shared what plans, if any, they have for the existing Decatur building yet.)

Back in July, you may recall the Department of Neighborhood’s hosted the final of 3 public departures meetings to review 3 requested departures from the City’s zoning code.  The reason for these requested departures is that the City has not identified any specific land use zone for new schools within the City’s zoning code. Therefore, any new school has to conform to the zoning requirements within the land use zone where they are proposed. As the new Thornton Creek Elementary building is located within a Single-Family (SF) zone, the building is expected to conform to the zoning requirements for single-family zones.  But, as you may expect, school buildings/campuses are different than single-family residences and departures are often needed for these projects.  In the end, a “departures committees” comprised of residents and school officials approved the requested departures with a list of requested conditions.  These conditions were reviewed and considered by the City when they Conditionally Granted the project’s Master Use Permit (MUP) on October 30th (APPEALS TO DECISION ARE DUE TO THE HEARING EXAMINER BY NOVEMBER 13, 2014).  The Seattle Public School District, as the SEPA-lead agency, already issued their Determination of Non-Significance for the project back on June 30th.  This MUP appeal period is the final opportunity for public comment prior to the District wrapping up the final designs and solicits the project for construction.

It is our understanding that the project is on schedule, which will see the new school begin construction in this coming spring/summer (2015) so the building is ready at the start of the 2016 school year.  The only aspect of the project we understand is behind schedule is the new View Ridge Elementary athletic field, which was to be opened this summer to offset impacts to the existing Thornton Creek Elementary athletic fields.  We’re currently seeking clarification on what may be holding up View Ridge Elementary athletic fields from being available this summer.

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