The Medford Site Plan and Architectural Commission on Friday approved plans for a new South Medford High School and renovations and additions to Lone Pine Elementary School, clearing the way for the schools to receive building permits.
SPAC's endorsement was the last in three steps necessary to build the $82 million high school, which will replace the 77-year-old South Medford school at Oakdale Avenue.
The Medford School District previously had obtained a zone change for the high school's 42-acre property in a residential area at the intersection of Columbus and Cunningham avenues. A week ago, the district received a conditional use permit allowing construction of a school in a residential zone, necessary because the city has no zone distinction for schools.
The 255,700-square-foot high school will replace the existing 77-year-old South Medford building on Oakdale Avenue.
The $15.8 million Lone Pine project involves demolishing and replacing the existing combined gymnasium and cafeteria, the administration building and the original 1926 structure. A fourth building of four classrooms will remain on campus until the new construction is complete, at which time it also will be razed.
The only major change SPAC mandated as a part of its approval of both Lone Pine and South Medford involved parking for bicycles.
The school district had proposed installing 52 bicycle stalls at South Medford and 20 bicycle stalls at Lone Pine.
Based on the size and purpose of the schools, city code required that 232 bicycle stalls at South Medford and 96 at Lone Pine.
South Medford Assistant Principal Donnie Frazier told the SPAC that on busy days only 30 to 40 bikes are parked at the existing high school.
A letter from Lone Pine Principal Kristi Anderson stated that usually less than half of the 18 bike stalls already at the campus are used.
Paige Townsend, senior planner with the Rogue Valley Transportation District, urged the SPAC to remain true to the city code dictating bike parking for buildings.
Townsend said she expects more students to walk, bike and skateboard to school as soaring fuel prices deter parents from ferrying their children to school.
RVTD reported a jump in bus ridership last month as fuel prices spiked.
"This is a great opportunity to plan for the future," Townsend said.
As a compromise, the SPAC voted to require 48 bike stalls at Lone Pine and 116 bike stalls at South Medford, with space earmarked to double the parking in the future if there is demand for it.
"I'd rather see more (bike parking) than less," said SPAC member Allen Potter. "I'd rather not see a situation where the school has to scramble to install more spaces."
The district will apply next week for building permits.
As a part of the high school construction the district is required to enhance some of the streets affected by the campus.
Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4459 or email@example.com.