At a recent meeting, the Board of Education voted to move ahead with the next, major step toward construction of a new Irving Schoolyard! This means Irving is well on its way to getting a new playground, a large artificial turf field and re-surfaced parking! In March the board will vote on the final plans so that construction can happen in summer of 2013. In the meantime, construction documents are being created and will go out to bid.
What will our new schoolyard look like?
The Board of Ed is sending three different plans out for construction bids. They will pick one in February. Between now and February the Board will conduct additional reviews on issues like traffic patterns, pedestrian safety, parking, etc. During that time they will also be able to work with potential partners, like the Park District, who may assist with funding.
How do these plans compare to the original Master Plan?
One of the plans (Option 3) has a similar layout of the field, playground and parking. The other two plans leave the playground and parking where they are now but with significant improvements, and they put a field where the current asphalt is.
One major difference is that many of the underground environmental features of the original plan are not able to be included during initial construction due to the increased cost of storm water management, permeable pavers, rain gardens and certain landscaping.
Unfortunately, the grant opportunities that could cover these costs are not on the same timeline that our construction requires. We look forward to finding other grants for environmental features that can go on top of a new schoolyard at a later time.
Are we almost done?
It is important to note that the original Master Plan is a guiding, visionary document. Many of the features on the original plan are items that can be added on as future fundraising allows. Consider the progress of a revised plan this spring as the fundamental building block for our vision.
One of the guiding principles of the Irving Schoolyard Project is to offer innovative learning experiences in an outdoor environment. The solar panels are one example of this effort. The school garden is another. Efforts like these will continue since Irving is full of people dedicated to improvement.
In fact, the Schoolyard Project recently received a grant from the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation to expand the garden and to build a straw bale tool shed. The south side of the building will become quite a lush educational learning environment for students! This is all part of the Irving Schoolyard Project’s overall vision.
We need your input to determine the specific playground equipment that our students will play on for years to come, and details on that can be found separately. Otherwise, look for updates when there is significant activity from the Board of Education starting later in January, 2013.
Again and again, thank you.