26 October 2007

What size school? + Killion wants traffic answers

The Argus' Linh Tat covers discussions by trustees of the Fremont Unified School Board, who want the ballpark village's school to be larger than the 4-acre concept the A's have been pitching:
Sharing their vision for the new school for the first time, trustees agreed at Wednesday night's board meeting that they would like 4 1/2 acres of play area alone, and Trustee Larry Sweeney said he would like the entire school to encompass a minimum of 8 acres. Typical suburban schools are spread over 8 to 10 acres.
This means negotiations between the district and the A's can begin in earnest. The trustees want no more than two stories for safety reasons and more play area, which could include more than one field or one really large field. The A's want a more compact design so that they can conserve land for housing or other uses.

We'll see where they can come to an agreement. It's possible the city might step in here, especially if the concept ends up being a shared school/park facility. The A's have been reluctant to go that route, instead suggesting a series of smaller pocket parks and playgrounds. I've mentioned before that a bargaining chip may be the city-owned 40 acre parcel next to the rail line and near the now-closed-to-the-public landfill. From the discussions that emerged from the school board presentation a few weeks ago, there's a good sense that all parties know how to make this work.

The Merc's Ann Killion
jumps on the alarmist traffic bandwagon. This time, her critique is two-fold. There are the actual public transportation and traffic issues to address. Then there's the cavalier nature by which Lew Wolff is responding to repeated inquiries.

Killion wants to act as the environmentally conscious journalist when she writes:

Twenty years ago, 10 years ago, even two years ago locating a stadium away from easily accessed public transportation was not such a big deal. It wasn't even that big a deal last year when the A's unveiled their swanky plans for Cisco Field.

But with every passing day, every new horror story about global warming, every new Prius sold, every bump in gas prices, the public becomes more and more aware of the desperate need for better public transportation. That the old model of bigger freeways and longer traffic jams just isn't going to work.

Excellent points. I hope to take a new train from Downtown San Jose to Fremont to attend games, even if I have to take a shuttle. Maybe I'll even buy a townhouse near Cisco Field so that I can walk. I'll try to make my contribution.

Here's the problem I have with these critiques: the writers are jumping the gun by playing the
FUD card. Yes, there are concerns about how to properly route ballpark-related traffic and even reduce it. Getting effective public transportation to the site will be no easy feat and will require buy-in from many different entities, including Fremont, Alameda County, the MTC, and several transit agencies. Everyone who is in any way associated with the project is keenly aware of these issues. That does not mean, however, that they are intractable. It will require some very creative planning to put together a solid, usable system of traffic management and public transportation at the site. Let's wait until the traffic and transportation study are released, then we can give a proper assessment. Tonight I'll try to frame the discussion by assessing the local (Tri-Cities) public transportation system, and why the existing suburban buildout might make it difficult to implement any significant changes.

Funny thing is, wasn't it Killion who around this time last year
lobbied the Giants to accept a payoff for territorial rights to Santa Clara County? She even wrote this:
I'm less perturbed by Wolff's posturing about leaving Oakland and voicing his frustration over the red tape he is facing than I am about his discussion of one of the biggest hurdles: traffic.
I wonder then, where Killion would like to see the A's located? Definitely to a place that has good public transit infrastructure already in place. Maybe a place that could get both BART and High Speed Rail in the next 15-20 years. Maybe a place like... Downtown San Jose.

Nah. From a San Jose-based columnist? Couldn't be that.

(awaiting first Anthony Rodriguez, er., Dominguez comment...)