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Northside High School welcomed parents, students, teachers, and neighbors to its third community meeting on Wednesday to discuss the plan and timeline for construction and renovation work underway on its campus.
During the meeting, Northside Principal Julissa Alcantar-Martinez unveiled a new traffic plan developed to keep students and staff safe throughout construction. The plan calls for the rear parking lot to be closed, with both parking and the main school entrance relocated to the west side of the campus.
“We’ve been meeting for the last four years, every week, every month, talking about the construction and what was coming,” Alcantar-Martinez said. “We’re happy to say we’re getting started.”
Under the district’s 2012 bond program, the $46.7 million project began with the creation of a new parking lot along Tackaberry Street — the first in a three-phase plan to create a modernized school for 1,500 to 1,700 students.
Work on the school building — the next phase of the project — is set to begin in the coming weeks, and plans call for two new additions, as well as major renovations to the existing building.
“We’re excited to get things up and running,” Satterfield and Pontikes Construction Project Executive Barclay Pittman said, who introduced the project team to the crowd.
Principal Alcantar-Martinez began the meeting with a slideshow recapping design plans for the school and highlighting various new features.
Plans feature a major renovation to the school’s historic 1928 building. That work calls for a complete remodel of the building’s interior and all of its mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, while also preserving the school’s historic architectural facade along Quitman Street and the auditorium, which features ornate golden ceiling medallions. Exterior windows are being replaced and additional windows also will be installed to bring in more natural lighting to extended learning and hallway areas.
The new culinary center will feature an open concept with large viewing windows along the hallway, allowing students and staff the opportunity to view culinary arts demonstrations and presentations.
The new performing arts center will feature new artwork as well as various wall colors throughout the space. Further discussion is taking place on possible murals that could be displayed on the ROTC building.
Most of the questions asked on Wednesday night were related to parking and traffic flow changes. A letter detailing the new traffic plan and accompanying map were passed out at the meeting on Wednesday and also distributed to students and posted on the school website on Thursday.
According to the plan, designated student drop-off areas will be at the front of the school along Quitman Street and at the rear along Morris Street. Campus parking will be relocated to the southwest corner of the campus in the lot at the intersection of Fulton and Quitman. The parking lot is accessible only via Tackaberry Street, and a permit is required. The school’s main entrance has been relocated to the west side of the building, closest to the new parking lot.
Changes will take effect beginning April 14 and will continue through the duration of the construction project.
“I’m excited about the changes, but at the same time it’s a little scary,” Northside alumnus and PTO Recruiter Machell Blackwell said, noting that she’d need to learn how to navigate the campus during construction.
Northside parent Maribell Martinez said she thinks the new performing and culinary arts spaces will be good additions.
“We didn’t have that when I was young,” Martinez said.
Construction is slated for completion during third quarter of 2018.