Klondike park (Kelvingrove)

In case people are unaware the authorities are proposing to build a school in Kelvingrove Park. The experts see the idea as a wonderful opportunity, most parents and locals involved see the idea as stupid. I find it difficult to waste time on their reasoning for this school anymore. The basic difference is. One side want there kids to go to a safe, secure, local educational, environment and the other can only think of how to make money from anything, (that’s public) they can get there hands on.

From our own Correspondent: Reporting from the abstract dream world, of the modern day urban coloniser:

Here are my notes from the school meeting – I think they held a separate one for parents only – WHY? – to split the opposition?

Notes from meeting at Hillhead High School 14th June 2007:

I found stuff online about the fight to save Victoria Park which began “Beware the statement ‘ We have a unique opportunity’….”
Then I realised that the opening statement at the School meeting was ” This is an OPPORTUNITY to provide an educational building in a UNIQUE setting. It’s all about childrens’ education.”

Pointing to a map of the depot & the rest of the park, Henry McKeown (spokesperson for the architects) said ” The green bit is the extended park adjacent to the site”……..
“There is a perception that the site is intruding into the park, because it’s called ‘the school in the park’. It is in fact a hole in the ground and a tarmac park depot” – (doesn’t have quite the same romantic ring….. ) -“we reckon putting a little school in it will enhance rather than detract”.

“The site is approx 15mins walk for all the kids from the catchment areas of Dowanhill, Kelvinhaugh, Willowbank & Hillhead. Public transport from all areas.”

There was ‘spirited discussion’ about idealistic v realistic assumptions about how many kids WILL walk or cycle to & from school and how much extra traffic will be generated. It was pointed out that there is no public transport of any kind available to the kids from Kelvinhaugh.The resulting silence & exchange of glances suggested that this might have been news to them.

The layout of the building was shown:
Main entrance for pedestrians (pupils,teachers & visitors) at the “historic upgraded(recycled) gates at Otago St”
Also pedestrian and “drop off point ” at Kelvin Way.
“We intend to use existing historic features upgraded/recycled”.
“Trees will remain, to hide the school building which will remain anonymous”
A photo was shown to illustrate how the building will be completely hidden by the trees. It will be “incredibly sensitive to environmental and ecological considerations”

* (How about ‘the incredibly sensitive & anonymous school’ instead of ‘the school in the park’?)

There will be a playground on the Gibson St side and 4 other play spaces.
At Otago St. there will be a ramp up to the entrance and an art installation on the side of the ramp.

There will be no corridors except an “umbilical”?! to “negotiate the existing house” but they may in time purchase the house for more play space. The classrooms will all be “one-sided around a social space”.
“It will be driven by a whole sustainable agenda – and renewable energy.”
There will be a car park for 23? spaces (access from Westbank Quad.) concealed under the playground.
There will be a big collecting point/play area off Kelvin Way.
The classrooms will have a grass roof which will be “sustainable in terms of run off of rain water”
They have a landscape architect from Berlin “where they’re very avant garde about these things.”

Dr Colin Begg of 5 University Ave. expressed concerns about noise, litter, traffic & parking and the proximity of the 2storey building to the back court of his flat.

“Pupil numbers will start at 490 and will decline to 420 in the near future.” Questioned about that McNab said “Our figures are based on registrar figures.”

Q: Don’t children do better at smaller schools?
A: Is 90 or 98 viable in an urban setting?
More ‘spirited discussion’…..

Parking will “categorically” remain as it is at present on Otago St. There will be no parent parking provided.
There will be zigzag lines outside that entrance.
The 3 existing crossings on Gibson St should be adequate.

They intend to restrict parking at certain times on Kelvin Way to enable parents to drop off kids.
It was pointed out that University people park there from early morning. “They will just have to park elsewhere, in the mornings and move their cars later”.
“Parents will be discouraged from driving children to school – children will be strongly encouraged to walk or cycle or use public transport. Teachers will be strongly encouraged to use public transport.” ( Much heated discussion)
“We will be doing a traffic impact assessment.”
Q: Why has that not been done before reaching this stage?
A: Blank stares.

Q: Where will the depot be located?
A: Gartcraig.

Q: What about grass-cutting machines & other vehicles necessary for day to day maintenance of Kelvingrove?
A: There will be a small depot area at the tip of the site (at existing internal park gate. Some vehicles will be brought from other areas of the city.

Q: Doesn’t that defeat the stated objective of cutting down fuel consumption, by discouraging people from using cars?
A: Some vehicles go out just now, but some will come in in future – so there will be a balance…..

Q: Is there any chance of overturning this, or is it a rubber stamp?
A: ( Visible surprise at the question) The Council has asked that a school be put on that site.

Parent: Hillhead is 300 pupils at the moment.
Reply: But it WILL decline I can assure you…
(Argument & disagreement re projected birth rate.)

The school would be capable of taking MAX 630 kids
21 classes at 30 each.

“Extending the site” was mentioned as a possibility at a later date….
Q: What do you mean ‘extend’ the site? Do you mean extend further into the park?
( HESITATION and more glances exchanged)
A: Flexibility within the site to accommodate more children. Extend within the site – up to the 2020s….. (only 13 years,then what?)
School is expected to last for 60 – 70 years at least.
Cost: £10.1million.

Questions & discussion about why consideration was not given to repairing say 2 of the old schools, instead of building a new one.
Q: What other sites were looked at? (Uneasy shifty glances)
A: Looked at a site near Dowanhill school, but it was a childrens’ play area, so we’d have been removing an existing amenity(Dowanhill Park!).
Also the ‘Park & Ride’ at Kelvinbridge, but it’s still owned by the railway and it sometimes floods, and has a rat problem.
We couldn’t find anywhere else (lamely).

Q: Would you have had to buy other sites and this one’s free?
A: With respect – YOU would have to buy it because Council Tax would be put up to pay for it.

“The football pitch will certainly have a fence round it.
It could have ivy trained through mesh to make it environmentally acceptable.”

Q: The depot is within the boundary of the park. Therefore if the depot is taken away, shouldn’t the area become landscaped parkland?
A (from MacDonald): Is the depot open at night just now for a dauner through?

“We asked people to respond to consultation – it used to be more simple, but since April we now have to go through consultation….”
“We have also consulted with the Executive ‘taste police’, who are positive about it, but still have to respond.”

Comment by 22nd June.
“Comments will be put into part of the report which goes to planning committee to be looked at.
Planners ask what’s been done to satisfy stakeholders.”

Windows & materials not finalised yet.

Heated exchanges about parking,traffic & notification –

Point made that mail sent to ‘Owner/Occupier’ often goes straight into the bin.

Q: Was there a stringent/aggressive attempt to source and notify all the ‘neighbours’?
A: McNab read out the whole list of people & groups informed.

Submission goes in 25th June.

Q: Ask Ruth Smith how this fits in with her vision for Gibson St. – (hadn’t heard her name before – maybe from planning?)
A: She’s actually quite happy about it.
Q: Is she giving you one story and me another?

Q: You mentioned the white house earlier. What’s the position about that?
A: I met the “rather charming lady who lives in the white house. She is concerned at having 500 kids and a school built around her and will go away and think about it.

“The land is owned by the Council, so the Council is the developer.
The architect is a consultant architect.”

Ian McNab: Council
Ian MacDonald: Education
Steve McFadyen: Parks
Mike Hyatt: Landscape
JM Architects:Henry McKeown (main speaker) & two architects (Luke Therman & ? )
Guy Wimble: Ironside Farrar
Alan Booth: Environmental
Walter McNeill: Project Officer

and about 6 members of the public! (and Cllr Martha Wardrop)