New Westport schools repurposing plans add details

Today we present an overview of the two latest proposals for repurposing Westport High School and Westport Middle School. We’ll have additional details on the proposals later this week.

Bob Berkebile presented an updated proposal for repurposing the Westport High and Middle Schools at a meeting on Saturday.

Community members and neighborhood groups got a second look at two proposals for repurposing Westport High School and Westport Middle School on Saturday.

The developers originally presented their plans for redeveloping the schools in August of 2012. At that time, the community asked for more details about each proposal, according to the director of the district’s repurposing initiative Shannon Jaax.

Saturday, two developers added details to their previous presentations. One would reuse the schools as a mixture of housing and youth athletic programs; the other suggests a mixture of three schools, nonprofit centers, community gardens and housing.

The biggest change in the proposals on Saturday came from KC Sustainable Development Partners.  Bob Berkebile said that since the last community meeting, his group has been negotiating with three separate educational entities. He said he could not give details, but his group was negotiating with a pre-K through grade 5, a middle school, and a high school that are all interested in locating in Westport High School.

Sustainable Development Partners also propose a Center for Community Vitality to house local nonprofits involved in health, wellness, energy and gardening. Their plan includes 85 housing units.

KC Sustainable Development Partners earlier proposal

The second developer, Foutch Brothers, put more detail onto its previous proposal for market-rate housing, community athletic fields, fitness centers and a community pool. Steve Foutch says his group wants to create 155 apartment units ranging from studio to three-bedroom in the schools. They would surround a fitness center open to the community. A key feature of Foutch’s proposal is the reuse of the schools’ athletic fields for youth sports. His company has relationships with nonprofit sporting organizations that he says would allow the community to take advantage of youth soccer, football and other types of programs

Foutch Brothers earlier proposal

The repurposing initiative is guiding the process of the reuse/redevelopment of 30 of its closed school sites.

Although one participant at Saturday’s meeting expressed concern that the decision on the Westport Schools has been languishing, Jaax said the district will move as quickly as possible toward a decision.

Neighborhood leaders say they want time to meet with the developers again and let their residents hear the proposals and offer input.

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