Amid both public and board concern, the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District denied a plan to lease land next to the undeveloped College Park Elementary School to Caltrain at its meeting last night.
The Board of Trustees voted 5-0 against the plan that would have leased a 30,000-square-foot field located at corner of Humboldt Street and Poplar Avenue to Caltrain for two years, from June 2014 to May 2016 to provide a construction staging area. This would have been in conjunction with a Caltrain project to replace four aging rail bridges in San Mateo’s North Central neighborhood that do not meet current seismic safety standards. The bridges are located at Tilton, Monte Diablo, Santa Inez and Poplar avenues.
Karen Jensen, board member at the Home Association of North Central San Mateo and parent of students at Fiesta Gardens International Elementary School and Abbott Middle School, spoke at the meeting about her concern with the project, citing health issues and noise.
“I had concerns about what kind of materials would be on the site. ... Asbestos and noise would be a concern,” Jensen said.
Trustee Audrey Ng shared Jensen’s reservations.
“We were concerned about the dust and noise impacting children at school,” Ng said. “They would be hauling dust and dirt and the wind picks up in that part of town.”
The lot has been used in the past as a playfield, but recently has been used by the contractor for College Park school construction.
Jensen said she is worried about the fact that the school district hasn’t maintained the lot in good order, with debris sitting in the area.
“There’s lots of options that can be pursued for that land,” Jensen said. “Using it as a construction lot is not in our best interest. It’s a horrible weedy lot right now. Restoring a playfield would be good.”
Jensen said in the long term she’d be interested in seeing the space used for faculty housing or more classrooms.
The plan would have provided an additional general fund revenue of $72,000 annually for two years, totaling $144,000, according to a staff report.
Caltrain’s primary hours of operation on the lot would have been from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., with half-dozen vehicles in/out per day to the construction field office and laydown for construction materials. There would also have been material and equipment deliveries to the site during off-peak hours with one to three flatbeds bringing in construction materials. An eight-foot fence would have been erected around the perimeter of the yard with fabric mesh on the side of the fence facing the school.
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