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Private school gym gets approval

Design Review Board give go-ahead to controversial project at Brethren Christian; neighbors vow to take battle to court.

June 11, 2009|By Britney Barnes

Brethren Christian Junior and Senior High School is one step closer to starting construction on a 26,785-square-foot gymnasium after the city’s Design Review Board approved the project this afternoon.

The board approved the gymnasium’s design, colors and materials after the school made several changes to the plans for the 31-foot-tall building. The board voted 3-1 in favor of the project.

“We took every step we’re required to take,” said Kevin Coleman, the applicant for the project. “We did above and beyond what was asked of us.”

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The gymnasium is part of the school’s $3.5-million renovation plan. The city originally approved the modernization with the stipulation that the gym must be redesigned to fit in better with the neighborhood and be approved by the Design Review Board.

With the board’s approval, only a few last minor changes must be made. The board is requiring a final review of the landscape plans, an increase in the number of trellises on the gymnasium if possible, an irrigation plan and more textural features added to the building to help it relate to surrounding buildings.

Coleman said he hopes to get the grading permits immediately and have the building up by the end of the year.

During the board meeting, several residents who live in the residential area surrounding the school spoke against the gymnasium. The residents are concerned about the impact the gymnasium will have on their neighborhood and appealed the City Council’s approval in April, but lost.

The residents’ biggest concern with the gymnasium, neighbor Kim Lerner said, is the sheer size of the building in proportion to the size of the school and the parking problems they anticipate it will create. She said the biggest question is why the school needs such a behemoth of a gym.

Coleman said the building is more than just a gym, since it will also hold two large storage facilities and restrooms for the American Youth Soccer Organization, a weight room, a dance and cheer room, a storage facility for drama, a concessions stand, two offices and team lockers and restrooms.

“It’s just a shame that people just don’t see it for what it is,” Coleman said.

Gary Worthington, a resident in the area for 41 years, said in the meeting that residents are going to do whatever they can to stop the building, including a lawsuit against the city. The residents have the papers for the lawsuit ready to go and their lawyer was just waiting to see what happened at the meeting, Lerner said.

“The only way this is going to stop is in the courts,” Worthington said.


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