BVUSD considers plan to expand BVHS campus

Sara Naatz, Co-Editor

The Blue Valley School District is currently seeking community input as its members consider a plan to expand the BVHS campus into Stanley Nature Park.
The plans include purchasing the park, behind the BV tennis courts, from the Johnson County Park and Recreation District.
On Tuesday, Aug. 30, the district hosted an informational open house in the BVHS commons to discuss plans for the possible expansion.
The key points of the plan are as follows:

  • Two new softball fields (not lighted)
  • Four new soccer fields (not lighted)
  • Two new parking lots
  • Larger parking spaces
  • More than 300 new parking spaces
  • Another ticket booth for football games
  • A bus drop-off line
  • Sidewalks to the new parking lots
  • A restructured cross country course
  • Small athletic storage building

Deputy Superintendent Al Hanna said one of the main goals of the plan is to improve safety on BVHS grounds. The new parking lots would allow more room for new drivers, especially at school events such as football games.
“It would be a much safer situation for BV students,” Hanna said.
Hanna also said the new plan aims to build up the athletic facilities with the additional fields.
“We want to make it comparable to other schools in the district,” he said. “There’s not any other land around the area, so this is our only real opportunity to make this happen.”
BV soccer coach K. Dean Snell said the new athletic fields would create a more manageable schedule for his teams.
“It would give us a lot more space,” he said. “Right now we have three teams in the fall for one full-size field. It will be nice to have that flexibility to change practice times if necessary.”
Varsity soccer player Hunter Browning said the fields would contribute to a better soccer program.
“Having a big complex would definitely be beneficial to the program,” he said. “It would be nice to have fields actually designated for soccer.”
Though the plans have not yet been approved, Snell said he hopes to see the plans come to fruition in the next year.
“It will be good for the kids,” he said. “It’s a designated area just for us. Personally, I would like to see it done by next fall, but realistically, I don’t think that will happen.”
Though the new fields would not have lights, a few people with houses backing up to the area remain skeptical.
John Briggs, whose property in Blue Valley Riding backs up to the intersection of the BVHS campus and the Stanley Nature Park, worries about the noise and view from his yard.
“My neighbors and I think it’s entirely unfair,” Briggs said. “It will decrease our property values.”
He also voiced his concern about the impact of replacing park land with more athletic fields.
“They are taking a nature park that everyone likes to use and killing it,” he said. “This is a public park they’re destroying.”
Hanna said one of the purposes of the open house was to introduce the plan to community members, who could then express concerns on the feedback forms provided.
“We’ve had both sides tonight,” he said. “We’ve had some people very happy about the fields, and others with major concerns.”
Briggs said he and his neighbors planned to fill out comment sheets, but did not expect their opinions to be sufficiently addressed.
“We are going to fill out comment sheets, but they are going to do what they want to do,” he said. “I’ve always voted yes on school board issues. This will be the first issue I’ve voted no, and I don’t like doing that.”
Before the plan can be put into into action, it must be approved by community members in a vote. Hanna said the district hopes to use bond funds to finance the project.
If the Board of Education moves forward with the plan, a bond issue election will take place in early 2012 which could include the funds necessary to begin the project.
The district would then need to obtain the land from the Johnson County Parks and Recreation District to begin the development of the area.
“They have expressed genuine interest,” Hanna said. “We’re optimistic about making this a better situation for BV community members.”