News

Fifth time the charm for Riverview bond

LOWER VALLEY - After seven years of unsuccessfully trying to get taxpayers to fund athletic facilities for Cedarcrest High School, the Riverview School District finally got its wish. Its newest athletic, roof and repairs bond passed on May 15 with 65.14 percent of the vote.

"For the very first time our children in this district will be assured that there are concerned and caring people in this community that put them first," said Helen Mellor, president of the Riverview Schools Committee, a volunteer group that serves as an advocate for student interests. "This entire campaign not only symbolizes the unity in the community, but the fact that our students' welfare, safety and education are top priority.

"I have to say that we went into this campaign with confidence from the momentum gained and the support felt from last November's election. And it was as though this time, most everyone was thinking, 'It is time. It is time to do the right thing for the students of Riverview,'" she said.

Mellor and fellow bond supporters went door to door and passed out fliers throughout the community. They held a rally and march and called many registered voters the night before the election to remind them to vote.

Their efforts apparently paid off. In the May 15 election, 4,160 registered voters cast ballots. Of those, 2,709 voted for the measure, while 1,450 voted against it.

The $5.75 million bond, called Proposition 1, only needed 60 percent of the vote to pass. It will fund several projects, including roof repairs for Stillwater Elementary, Tolt Middle School and Cedarcrest High School; structural improvements for Tolt; and the construction of a multipurpose athletic field and track and completion of a performing-arts center at Cedarcrest.

The athletic facilities - as in years past - were the controversial part of the bond. Four previous bond measures that dealt only with athletic facilities have failed. The last bond was defeated in November, failing by about 20 votes out of more than 7,400 cast.

"We're very excited for the opportunities [the bond is] providing for the community as a whole, and for the educational opportunities that it's going to provide our students and our future students," said Josh Garcia, Cedarcrest's athletic director. "First and foremost, it provides all of our students and any person that competes on those fields a safe, competitive playing surface. Secondly, I think it provides a sense of pride, tradition and a new beginning."

The athletic facilities make up about $3.3 million of the bond and will include an all-weather football/soccer field with synthetic turf, a rubberized running track, equipment for field events, uncovered aluminum bleachers for 750 spectators, a 1,200-square-foot restroom and concession building and an electrical and lighting system.

Cedarcrest was originally built without athletic facilities in 1993. Since then parents, coaches and teachers have been pushing to pass an athletic bond.

Because the high school lacked facilities, student athletes have been practicing at Tolt Middle School, at Woodinville High School, in the surrounding streets and in the high school's commons area.

The new facilities will reduce the risks to students who've had to drive long distances for practice, Garcia said. Besides sports teams, the marching band and the cheerleading and the drill teams have also been affected by the lack of practice space, as have all high-school students enrolled in physical-education classes.

Garcia said with the new athletic facilities, students will not only be healthier physically, but mentally, too, because they won't be out as late driving home from practice, and they'll have more time to do homework.

"I think the pride that they're going to have their own facility, the confidence that their community believes in their education and that their community is willing to support them is important," he said.

Planning and construction for the bond's projects will begin as soon as possible, and work is expected to begin this summer on Stillwater and Cedarcrest roofs . Athletic-facility improvements and construction should start by mid-fall, with a goal of completion for the 2002-2003 school year.

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