Ballard residents protest school expansion plan

SEATTLE, Wash. — Compromise, says a Ballard activist, has proved elusive when it comes to replacing the Loyal Heights Elementary School.

"We don't want to stop the project but we want a compromise," said Maryann Firpo, whose own children attended the school.

Seattle school officials insist the issue is complex but the bottom line is they need a taller, bigger school to cope with future overcrowding. Firpo and some of her neighbors insist the plan is wrong because it offers no new parking in this densely populated neighborhood.

"I think that we have a pretty good understanding of the problem," said Firpo. "And that's all we've ever wanted is a means to make it work for everyone. In a way that doesn't alienate the neighbors and the community."

There is a rendering of the proposed new Loyal Heights Elementary school online.

Neighbors say the new school would be nearly three times its current size. And would extend out to the edge of the nearly three acre property. It would have room for an additional 200 students, more students than they believe will ever attend here.

Moreover, the new school would largely wipe out this playground neighbors raised a half-million dollars to build some 15 years ago.

All the while, says Firpo, school officials have ignored the recommendations from a neighborhood committee of which she was a member.

"We don't feel listened to," said Firpo. "Because we know a compromise is possible."

So she and a group of other neighbors filed a preliminary appeal last week to stop the project, at least temporarily.

They plan to finalize it Monday.

For their part, school officials are hoping to have a new school by Fall, 2018.