ORINDA — Residents of Ivy Drive in Orinda are furious at Orinda school district leaders over the proposed temporary relocation of the school district's maintenance unit to a middle school campus.
"They say it's temporary, but it's not," said Donna White, a 44-year resident of Ivy Drive. "Nobody wants it in their backyard."
One school board official says the lack of accurate information about the plan has greatly skewed public perception of the proposal, said to be different from what residents have seen in the past.
"People think it's the old plan," said Riki Sorensen, president of the Orinda Union board of trustees. "What we're talking about is completely restructuring the way we do maintenance."
Nearly 70 residents and concerned school parents attended a meeting at Orinda Intermediate School Tuesday to protest the proposed relocation. Attendees were indignant during discussion of the maintenance yard.
"It was obvious form the start that the Orinda Union School District had no intention of hearing what residents and community members have to say," said Ivy Drive resident Tim Silveira. "If they were interested in public feedback, they would have marketed this meeting with a public notification."
Notice of the meeting — about 100 fliers — was distributed by Mary Bellicini, a concerned area resident also disappointed by the district's poor effort to get resident feedback.
"How many more residents would have attended if we had been able to distribute more?" Bellicini said.
There are an estimated 700 residents of Ivy Drive.
The middle school's neighbors were responding to school board plans to move forward with rearranging its maintenance operations, which could include setting up a portable building where the campus's sixth-grade basketball courts sit. That same space is used as a meet-up location during emergency drills.
"I, personally, do see (the middle school) as a workable short-term solution for our maintenance needs, given this revised scenario," Sorensen said.
The district hired a consultant to suggest a suitable place to relocate the facility, and the middle school was suggested. An eventual permanent location has not been determined.
Sorensen said the school board and residents have been at odds over the relocation of the facility for four years. Several residents confirmed that.
The maintenance facility, now still on Altarinda Road near the school district offices, houses the district's electrical, heating/air conditioning, plumbing, glazing, painting and other large shops. Relocating the facility to the intermediate school would mean finding new space for vehicle maintenance, warehousing and equipment storage.
The district hopes to transform its operation into "mobile maintenance operations," in which large trucks will be equipped to do the functions now done in the maintenance unit buildings.
Before the move to the intermediate school could ever happen, the district would need to obtain a permit from the city, which will likely be met with some opposition.
"Property owners within a 300-foot radius will be notified at least 10 days prior to the Planning Commission meeting," Orinda City Manager Janet Keeter said.
Reach Aaron Morrison at 925-943-8326 or firstname.lastname@example.org.