FREMONT — City and school district leaders are considering building an elementary school at a city park to ease overcrowding in the Ardenwood district and help pave the way for the proposed Patterson Ranch residential subdivision.
Talks are still preliminary and several obstacles remain regarding the proposal to give the school district four acres of Karl Nordvik Park, near the intersection of Ardenwood Boulevard and Commerce Drive.
If a deal is reached, the district would build a third Ardenwood district elementary school on park land to help it absorb an estimated 200 students expected to live in a nearby 500-home subdivision.
City Council members praised the concept at Tuesday's meeting about the proposed subdivision.
"I'm definitely interested in seeing how that can happen," Councilmember Anu Natarajan said.
But Fremont school district assistant superintendent Steve Betando cautioned that the plan "would have many issues for the neighborhood," and said more discussion was needed on how to solve school overcrowding.
The proposal was pitched by Richard Frisbie, chief planner for the Patterson family, who has been working for more than a decade to build a subdivision on land adjacent to Coyote Hills Regional Park.
The original plan in 1999 called for 1,500 homes. That number has steadily dropped, and late last year, Frisbie again reduced the project from 839 homes and an elementary school to no more than 520 homes and no school site. That didn't sit well with the school district, which had been counting on a new school to alleviate overcrowding at nearby Forest Park and Ardenwood elementary schools.
"We have enough students for three elementary schools (in Ardenwood) and we only have two sites right now," Betando said — adding that both campuses had reached capacity.
Nordvik Park originally was slated to include a four-acre school, but it was never built because it was near a PG&E transfer station, Frisbie said. If the school is built, it would have to be at the site of the park's existing ball field, and that ball field would have to be moved closer to the transfer station.
"I don't think we're really going to know what's possible until the new (Fremont) superintendent comes on board (this year)," Frisbie said. "It may be a gas balloon that doesn't get anywhere."
Construction of the subdivision isn't slated to begin until 2015 and isn't scheduled for completion until 2025. The housing would be concentrated west of Ardenwood Boulevard between Paseo Padre Parkway, railroad tracks and Alameda Creek.
Most of the 327 acres west of Ardenwood, abutting the regional park, would be reserved for open space. However, plans still call for an 8-acre city park and two churches along the west side of Ardenwood.
An environmental review is still ongoing, with a finalized plan set to return to the council early next year.
Most council members praised the scaled-down subdivision for looking very similar to other single-family developments in the Ardenwood area. The lone critic was Natarajan, who wanted the subdivision to include more novel housing designs and more communal amenities such as community gardens.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-353-7002. For more Fremont news, read his blog: www.ibabuzz.com/tricitybeat.