Pile Driver Driving Otis Neighbors Nuts

Eric J. Kos Neighbors noticed this crane looming over the Otis Elementary School campus and Krusi Park a few weeks ago. The equipment was the harbinger of a new building at the school. Construction noise has been disrupting the holidays for nearby residents.

 

Construction on a new twostory building at Otis Elementary School began last month. The building is designed to hold six classrooms with three classrooms on each floor.

Architectural design company Quattrocchi Kwok Architects, a Santa Rosa company, developed the blueprint designs for the project. The Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Education approved the project last September.

The new structure will be located on the eastern edge of the school along High Street. Along with the six classrooms, the new structure will have outdoor learning areas, an equipment room, two outdoor stairways and more. The plan calls for three existing portables to be relocated, while plans for three others are under consideration.

As with any new construction project, noise levels around the surrounding areas were deafening to nearby residents.

“The pile driving causes tremors in our house all day, every day (we live almost three blocks away from Otis School),” wrote one concerned 

Alameda resident who asked to remain anonymous in an email on Dec. 30. “It is very noisy (loud clanging while going on) and is terrifying for our pets. Pile driving occurred most or all of this weekand continues today.”

The pile-driving phase of the construction was just completed according to AUSD Chief Business Officer Shariq Khan. He said the district notified teachers, principals and PTA members of Otis Elementary about the expected noise levels during the construction phase for over a year. The district notified residents within one block of the school of the expected noise levels.

Khan believes the new building structure is a must for Otis Elementary. “Otis has been in need for new classrooms,” said Khan. “Unfortunately noise is going to be a problem. We’re sorry for the disturbance, but we believe the new building will be an asset for the community.”

Khan said construction will continue to take place Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will include further pile driving. The district expects the classrooms will be ready for use after the summer break in Sept. 2017.

The school board approved a construction budget of about $4.7 million for the design project. The estimated budget for the two-story building structure is $3.89 million. Other costs include technology and communication upgrades and security upgrades.

The structure is financed through funds allocated from the Alameda Local School Improvement Measure, Measure I, in the November 2014 election. The measure was approved with 62.75 percent of the vote (13,111 yes votes). A 55 percent supermajority vote was required for the approval of this measure.

Measure I authorized the district to increase its debt by $179.5 million through issuing general obligation bonds in that amount. District officials estimated that an additional property tax of $60 per $100,000 of assessed property value would be required to repay the debt that would be authorized by the approval of Measure I.

This bond was based on the 2014 Facilities Master Plan, which identified $590 million worth of renovations, modernizations and repairs needed in AUSD’s school sites.

According to the schedule approved by the Board of Education in March 2015, the first $90 million in funds will be used to renovate and modernize the school district’s elementary, middle and charter schools. 

The next phase will see remodeling at Encinal and Alameda high schools.

City of Alameda Architects have submitted this rendering to show the design of the new building currently under construction at Otis Elementary School.