By Gerhard Schneibel

With phase one of a 47,000-square-foot, 26-classroom addition and renovation to Ridgeview Charter School slated to begin this month, school board members and project contractors were faced with questions from parents and neighbors living on Trimble Road during a June 9 community meeting at the school. The project is expected to be complete in January 2010.

“Obviously it’s a very compact site, we’re on top of a hill and the kids are going to be here while we’re working, so it’s three very difficult things,” said Jeff Fincher, an architect with the Marietta-based CDH partners.

“We’re actually reorienting the school with a southern entrance. Because of the changes in grades we were able to do some interesting things with retaining walls and landscaping.”

Ninety to 95 percent of traffic generated by the school uses an access road connected to Northland Drive because most of the school’s district lies to the west of the building, according to Principal Karen Cox. That access road will be closed to traffic during the construction project, and Trimble Road residents expressed concern about school traffic being directed into their neighborhood, which is the only other entrance to the school.

Frank Destadio, local program manager for Pasadena, Calif.-based Parsons Engineering, explained the traffic modification will be necessary but assured residents that all construction traffic will use the access road. He also explained the Georgia Department of Transportation currently administers that road, which has no sidewalks, and that responsibility for it will likely be transferred to the Fulton County Board of Education via the City of Sandy Springs so SPLOST money can be used to improve it.

“We’d like to be able to just go in and gut the facility, but obviously we can’t do that,” he said. “It’s always a challenge to work in the community, especially when we’re going to have these kids here.”

Phase one of the project includes extensive site work and an underground detention pond and must be complete by August 2008 in time for school to resume, he added. Some students will be moved to portable classrooms while interior construction is done during the school year.

Fincher also said the structure is constructed in a way which allows interior walls to be reconfigured to maximize efficiency.