With progress comes challenge and that’s been the case for administrators, coaches, parents and students at Mira Costa High School this year. Plans to build a new state-of-the-art science building in an existing parking lot have set off a domino effect that’s prompted countless conversations about parking and athletic facilities on a campus that only has so much space.
With the new building eliminating some parking spaces, the original thought was to relocate those lost spaces by leveling tennis courts on Artesia Boulevard and creating new parking. But where on campus could replacement tennis courts be built? And whose coveted space would they overtake? And by the way, the athletic fields could use improvements and perhaps a renovation anyway. A whole lot of talking was going on, with a whole lot of ideas being born.
Enter architectural plans A and B, which were publicly presented in January to an outcry of concern from parents, students and coaches who were unhappy with portions of either plan.
After hearing that concern, the school district formed the Athletic Facilities Master Plan Committee.
“This committee originally convened with the purpose of moving the tennis courts [for parking], but now we are a different committee–one that is concerned with field renovation,” said Ben Dale, Mira Costa principal.
Last week during one of the committee’s meetings, the group was told that a remodeling or restriping of the current lot would ensure sufficient parking without requiring any additional lots or construction. The parking usage analysis was presented by Luc Berne of Burch Architects and Dr. Steven Romines, assistant superintendent of the Manhattan Beach Unified School District .
The committee, chaired by Mira Costa teacher and head football coach Don Morrow and including several varsity coaches, parents, school administrators and community members, then moved to recommend either a complete remodel or a restriping of the current parking lot, with the preference toward remodeling.
The committee’s recommendation will be heard at the Wednesday, June 1 school board meeting.
“Either plan [remodeling or restriping] works,” said Romines. “Our main goal is to save the tennis courts [another plan called for the removal of most of the courts to provide parking] and either one achieves this. Additionally, this is perfect timing to get in there in the summer [while school is out] and take advantage of this opportunity.”
Romines said staff will recommend the complete remodeling scenario. “There are too many elements of the current lot that are antiquated and must be replaced, including the lighting, handicap parking, a ramp must be built,” he said.
“The parking study showed us we could meet our parking needs without changing the parking configuration,” said Dale. “Moving the tennis courts was only necessary if we needed to use that area for parking.”
Mira Costa head tennis coach Joe Ciasulli is pleased with the progress of the committee.
“If they would have torn down the tennis courts, they would not have been rebuilt,” he contended. “There was no place to put them. In that scenario someone was going to lose. It’s a zero-sum game. We don’t have any excess space.”
Ciasulli is hopeful that the recommendation, which is a victory for the tennis facilities, can be supplemented by necessary field renovations for all varsity sports.
“Everybody has been really cooperative in focusing on maximizing the best use of the space we have for all students,” Ciasulli said. “Everyone has that goal. It’s just finding out how to get there that is key.”
The committee is meeting tonight at 7 p.m. to continue discussing the Mira Costa Athletics Master Plan and field renovations.
“Pending board approval of our recommendation, I think we are making great headway and getting back to the job of the committee, which is now field renovations,” said Dale.