‘Front yard’ project beginning at West
A plan to give West Middle School “a welcoming entrance” - as Principal Joe Torrez describes it - is close to taking form in
front of the school at 1920 W. Pikes Peak Avenue.
The project, to include upgraded landscaping and historic-style fencing, will also help “control the flow of traffic after school” and “capture the flavor of an old building in an older neighborhood,” he said.
The fence will be the project's Phase 1. Standing 4 feet high and 250 feet in length, the smooth, black-metal barrier will run along the top of the low wall in front. It will go from the school's southeast parking lot, break at the steps to the main entrance and continue west to a secondary building entrance's sidewalk.
Depending on the weather, District 11 crews are expected to install the fence during the next two months.
The fence cost (following a bidding process this winter) is about $6,000, with the district picking up $4,500 of that amount, Torrez said. No dollar amount has been set for the project as a whole. The school share is being covered on a funds-available basis from its building account and fund-raising efforts ($4,500 over the past year and a half).
There is also no schedule for completion. The project had initially been envisioned in conjunction with last fall's unsuccessful bond election, which would have earmarked sizeable chunks of money - $161,000 in West's case - for school-identified projects.
Overall, Torrez said, “We think this work will make the front more inviting and aesthetically pleasing. We have a good facility, but this will make it look even better. It's important for the community.”
Sometime this spring will begin the landscaping phase, which will result in an underground sprinkler system, crumbled-rock walkways, new sod, and the adding and subtracting of trees and shrubs. Benches are also in the plan, although Torrez said he is not sure if there will be enough funds available this year to afford them.
To save on costs, the landscaping work is to be accomplished by school staff and students, with members of the community invited to pitch in as much as they like. Torrez said he will provide information on work dates when they are scheduled.
Currently, the grass outside the main entrance - near the east end of the building - has various patches of dirt, and some bushes and trees are unattractive or block schoolroom windows, he said.
Safety considerations also played a part in the planning. Currently, students waiting for rides after school roam around outside the entrance, and the low wall poses a potential hazard. “The fence will help us with traffic flow and safety,” Torrez said.
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