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Possible retaining wall, its cost outlined for Enota garden
Money not in budget, chair says; board to discuss option
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Brainstorming sessions

What: Two sessions about the new Enota building project and transition plan. Discussion to include campus operations, garden planning, communications and events/programs.

When: 9:30 and 11 a.m. Saturday, April 30

Where: Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy cafeteria, 1340 Enota Ave. NE, Gainesville

Maintaining most of the garden at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy could require a retaining wall to shield it from construction of a new school, and that would cost an estimated $132,000.

That possibility was described at a meeting Thursday afternoon among school officials, architects, engineers and community representatives.

The Enota school is in a 60-year-old building. The district has planned to demolish that building and construct a new school on the site.

The proposed work would lower the level of the building by about six feet and raise the playground area about the same.

The original proposal would have destroyed the garden at the school, making most of that into parking. Supporters of the garden objected and asked that a way be found to preserve the existing garden.

Becky Pope, an architect with Lindsay Pope Brayfield Clifford & Associates, explained the retaining wall would cover “as much of the garden as we can save.” The retaining wall would generally be along the end of the building where the garden is — between the school and the parking lot.

As Pope explained, the new school would be about 25 feet from the retaining wall. She said that would create a kind of “tunnel” — others described it as an “alley” between the two.

“In fact, you’ve made it (the garden) an island out there,” said Jeff Dyer, an engineer who worked on the plans.

The wall would be concrete with a 6-foot, chain link fence on top of it. Pope said the fence is for safety, primarily to keep children from climbing it, during school hours and after hours.

Mildred Fockele asked about using a different kind of fence, one that would be more decorative and could not be climbed. The cost of that is not known.

She and Mark Fockele, her son, made the point that no money is committed to helping pay for preserving or re-establishing the garden.

About $100,000 is in the budget for landscaping. A portion of that could be used for the garden, Delores Diaz, chair of the Gainesville Board of Education, said, but an amount was not discussed.

The landscaping money also would pay for  sod, replacement or moving of trees and any new plants.

Diaz also said the school district does not have the money to pay for a retaining wall.

Pope told the group the revised proposal reduces the number of parking spaces. The school now has 103 parking spaces, she said. The revised construction plan would have 198 — down from 251.

Pope said five factors should be considered in evaluating building plans — safety, future expansion of the building, maintenance, aesthetics and costs.

She also explained that a new school must meet a host of regulations and laws that did not exist when the existing building was constructed. A primary example, she said, is the Americans with Disabilities Act — access for those with disabilities.

Pope emphasized more than once that plans for the school are at an early stage — although she admitted it can seem otherwise. She pointed out the school district is “several months” from taking bids on the project.

John Girardeau asked if the school district “is willing to do whatever’s necessary to evaluate this option.”

Diaz was first noncommittal, saying the board would have to discuss the information.

“We’ll just have to see where it goes,” she said, but she added the board would respond to the garden supporters.

Brainstorming sessions on the project will be held Saturday morning at the school.