Piedmont Neighborhood News

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If The Becker Plan For Havens Is Not Implemented Piedmont Will Regret It

Posted by drewbendon on February 8, 2008

Given all factors, I believe that it is actually more fiscally responsible over the long term to rebuild Havens Elementary School than to retrofit it.

In their Board presentation of June 13, 2007 murakami / Nelson, the architectural/engineering firm hired by the School Board, presented their cost comparison of 3 options to resolve the seismic concerns at Havens elementary school. At that time they projected that it would cost $10,500,000.00 to $15,000,000.00 to retrofit the school, $14,500,000.00 to $20,500,000.00 to build what they called the Hybrid Option and $34,500,000.00 to $50,000,000.00 to replace the school.

The Hybrid Option was offered because in the initial review it was believed that a Retrofit would actually reduce two of the classrooms to sizes that were “significantly smaller than State standards.” The Hybrid Option was also considered because murakami / Nelson asserted that it “significantly improves accessibility and circulation with a single floor level.” The cost estimates for the Rebuild Option appear to have been offered to show that it was too expensive to do. In October, 2007 murakami / Nelson revised the cost projection for the “Hybrid Option” to $23,000,000.00.

Mark Becker has proposed to rebuild the entire school, except Ellen Driscoll Theater, for a guaranteed price that is approximately the same cost as the current cost projection for the Hybrid Option. Given all factors, I believe that it is actually more fiscally responsible over the long term, to spend $23,000,000.00 to $25,000,000.000 to replace the school than to spend $10,500,000.00 to $15,000,000.00 to retrofit the school.

At the beginning of this process a point was made that typically, when deciding whether it is more efficient to retrofit a building as compared to rebuilding it the cost of the retrofit is compared to the cost to rebuild and if the cost to retrofit is approximately 50% of the projected cost of rebuilding, the additional value you get from a new structure makes it more responsible to rebuild the structure.

One simple way to look at this to try to understand it is to ask: what do you get for the money?

Retrofit: Improved seismic safety.

Becker Plan:

Improved seismic safety – Although I think I heard murakami / Nelson say otherwise, I have to believe that the seismic safety of a new structure would surpass that of a retrofitted structure. Also, given the reorientation, if any of the other grade schools were yellow tagged after an earthquake most, if not all of the students from those schools could be taught at Havens by adding portables on the new blacktop area, minimizing the disruption to our grade school education program.

Improved fire safety – modern materials, a more streamlined design, etc.

Improved functionality – a new school can be designed to address current and future teaching methods with flexible spaces and built in modern technologies. It is also designed to open onto Highland, an orientation that is much better for its integration into the Civic Center.

Fully ADA Complaint – a new school would have to be fully ADA compliant. This would be an excellent asset to have in our grade school system.

Improved campus security – the current Havens campus is a hodge-podge of buildings and wide open. The new structure would address student safety issues.

Ecological benefits – Havens’ buildings date from many eras and suffer many of the inefficiencies of older buildings. New buildings would be built to new energy codes and could employ the latest energy saving technologies.

Increased Building Life – A new structure would have a longer usable life than a retrofitted structure.

A Huge New Community Asset – Perhaps the single most exciting element of the Becker Plan is that it includes, in addition to a large blacktop area, a new playfield with approximately the same square footage as Beach Playfield that could support two side by side Under 8 or Under 6 soccer games, two Shetland or Pinto baseball games (4 T-ball games), two Under 8 or Under 6 softball games, two 3rd/4th grade lacrosse games, two flag football games, and more. If you’re looking at this aerial shot of Havens, the new field would sit approximately where A West and A Central are identified.

The City has looked into changing the layout of Hampton Field to increase field space, but that was rejected because of the negative impact it would have had on tennis and basketball. The City has looked at building a new field at Blair Park on Moraga, but the costs of doing so would be extensive. There is also a proposal to add Field Turf and lights to Coaches field, but the testimony adduced at the Recreation Commission appeared to show that even if we do this, there still will be a significant deficit of field space, particularly if, as anticipated, soccer loses its fields in Alameda without any other additional fields coming on line.

The Becker Plan allows us to add this community resource at what is essentially no additional cost.

I realize that building a new grade school was not what most people had in mind when they voted for Measure E and I realize that $25,000,000.00 is a large sum of money, but I’d rather spend $25,000,000.00 and get all of these incredible benefits, than spend $12,500,000.00 on upgrading the seismic safety of the building alone. We must find a way to make this work. If we don’t, I guaranty we’ll regret it.

– Drew

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2 Responses to “If The Becker Plan For Havens Is Not Implemented Piedmont Will Regret It”

  1. A great argument Drew! I agree that this is an opportunity that PUSD and the city should act on. It is fiscally conservative, maximizing the benefit while containing costs.

    To me, the most important paragraph is your last one. It’s not what people had in mind when they voted for Measure E; it is a significantly improved vision that achieves the goals of Measure E in ways far better for the children of Piedmont than anyone could have anticipated.

  2. trood said

    The new Havens should be designed to earn LEED certification by the US Green Building Council.

    20% of America goes to school every day. More than a quarter of these students and teachers attend schools that are considered substandard or dangerous to occupant health.

    Public and private schools alike are realizing that going green is a no-brainer. On average, green schools save $100,000 per year – enough to hire two new teachers, buy 200 new computers or purchase 5,000 new textbooks.

    If all new school construction and school renovations went green starting today, energy savings alone would total more than $20 billion over the next 10 years.

    Green schools can make a tremendous impact on student health, test scores, teacher retention, school operational costs and the environment.

    Learn more at http://www.buildgreenschools.org

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