Construction continues on the grounds of UAHS.
BY GRETA MILLER, ’23. GRAPHIC BY CAROLINE KEGG, ’24.
In November 2017, the UA community approved a $230 million bond-levy for the construction of a new high school and the construction or renovation of five elementary schools. An additional $7.5 million was privately raised by the Legacy Capital Campaign, $5 million for construction costs and $2.5 million for building and grounds enhancements. These efforts have given 1,900 UA students in grades 9-12 a new 411,000 square-foot high school building that is approximately 100,000 square feet larger than the old one. With most of the building construction now completed, what is left to be done on the high school grounds?
Two parking lots are expected to be completed by April 2022. The largest lot, containing roughly 240 spots, will be entered from Brandon Road—located next to the south entrance of the high school building and allocated primarily for students with a small portion allocated to staff. The second lot, containing roughly 175 spots, will be entered from Mt. Holyoke Road—located south of the tennis courts—and allocated to students only. Those approximately 375 student spots will likely be allocated via a lottery that prioritizes seniors who carpool with other students, but the COVID-19 situation next spring could change that.
“[In the past] we have prioritized seniors who [were] carpooling. So seniors who are driving other people are going to get priority on the lottery to get a spot,” Principal Theado said. Furthermore, parking lot passes will most likely be just that—passes that get students into the lots, with a first-come-first-serve determining which spot a student gets each day. Street parking for all students around the school building block will continue along Mt. Holyoke Road, Zollinger Boulevard and Northwest Boulevard, providing approximately 200 lined spots. Staff parking will continue along Brandon Road, and additional neighborhood parking is yet to be determined. A baseball diamond and a softball diamond will also be constructed by the end of the 2021-2022 school year. The 375-foot baseball diamond construction has already begun at the corner of Mt. Holyoke Road and Ridgeview Road, while the 225-foot softball diamond construction is expected to begin in a few months at the north side of the baseball diamond next to the Mt. Holyoke Road parking lot.
“They each have dugouts, a team clubhouse area and seating behind home plate with a little press box. And then there is a concession stand that they both share,” UA Schools Chief Operating Officer Chris Potts said Two practice fields will be constructed at the corner of Ridgeview and Brandon Road by the end of the 2021-2022 school year. While the farther west field is roughly 90 yards long, the east field will be slightly shorter at 80 yards due to the existing sidewalk cutout from the old infrastructure. Due to the shorter lengths of the fields, they will be most suited for sports like soccer, lacrosse and field hockey rather than football. There will not be any facilities such as spectator seating or press boxes included with these fields. Under the approved 2017 levy, these fields are expected to be grass, but there is a current private fundraising effort underway to explore possibly upgrading the fields to turf.
“They have until probably January. And I know that they are working hard to see if they can raise about 1.2 million dollars,” Potts said.
Men’s lacrosse head coach Kyle Olson is familiar with the fundraising efforts.
“We want to do two turf fields, though they will be a little short of a full field but great for practices,” Olson said.
By the end of this school year, students will have access to over 300 more parking spaces, two baseball/softball diamonds and two practice fields. The parking congestion and frustration should ease for students, staff and neighborhood homeowners; the baseball and softball programs will have access to state-of- the-art fields, and the high school mens’ and women’s field sports will be able to schedule practices earlier with the opening of two new fields. The light at the end of this construction tunnel is near.