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Letter: School leaders were too quick to dismiss alternate plans for Enota
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To Gainesville Public School Board Chair Delores Diaz: I am writing to express my concerns over the proposed plans for the new Enota school. While I do not have children who would be affected by the plans, I am an alumnae of the school, a resident of the neighborhood and a taxpayer in Gainesville.

The rush to suddenly vote on the Enota plans following the groundbreaking for Mundy Mill School on June 6 smacks of autocracy without appropriate measures for timely public discussion, without pursuit or mention of the previously requested delays, or of a second design of the school by architects.

Instead the superintendent appears to be forcing school board support for her plans even if it risks dividing the board and the larger community. How does that serve Gainesville’s need? True leadership seeks to bring people together, not divide them.

The Enota garden is an undeniable asset, valued at over $100,000, as attested to by many. It is a unique feature of Enota, and indeed enhances in many ways its claim to be a school for multiple intelligences. While not every teacher uses the garden, every student does.

It is also used for more than science. I have been told that when a child would become agitated with problems, the school counselor, rather than sitting in an office at a desk, often would take the child into the garden. This immediately had a calming effect on the child, and after finding a bench, would work with the child in that special place.

The overall plans are to replace the garden with an increased number of parking spaces. Are more than 125 places really needed when often there would be empty parking space at Enota on a usual weekday morning? To move tons of earth would destroy the natural topography of the land and create noise and air pollution to the detriment of the neighborhood. This would denude the nearby woods to create a vast retention pond 8 feet deep surrounded by concrete, later to be mostly full of weeds and debris. This does not sound like building for the future; instead it represents the worst of now outdated building practices.

Remarks designed to assuage the public so far do not match actions. Dr. Wanda Creel’s ambitious plans to build three elementary school in the next two years seem designed to enhance her own resume rather than to actively seek the needs of the community and adjust plans accordingly.

School board members come and go, as do superintendents, but the current plans of “build for the future” will impact generations of schoolchildren and the neighborhood for years to come. It will be an asphalt/concrete jungle, not an enticing place to be for the next 50 years.

Anne W. Chenault

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