Dear friends –
I have been trying for months to understand exactly what activities COM has planned for the new Maintenance and Operations facility being constructed adjacent to Kent Middle School and the Corte Madera Creek on a former playing field. I was given bread crumbs of information with very few specifics. But after continuing my research I have discovered some information I wanted to share with you.
COM gave itself a waiver from doing an Environmental Impact Report claiming that the new facility was not going to cause any significant impact to the environment.
The finding was based on a document that provided absolutely no information about what the site would be used for. No information about what kind of materials might be stored at the site. No information about the purpose of the facility other than “storage and offices”. And absolutely no acknowledgement of the fact that the site is directly adjacent to two public education facilities - Kent Middle School and the MCOE’s Grant Grover facility for disabled adult education and youth speech support.
After further digging, I found that the waiver was based on false pretenses – there are in fact many potential impacts to the site. COM was not honest about its proposed use of the site and did not provide notice to the neighbors about the construction or the proposed use.
I presented my research to the Kentfield School District in October. After failed attempts to get COM to discuss the facility and how it may impact Kent Middle School, KSD was facing a statute of limitations and had to hire attorneys to file a lawsuit against COM to compel to come to table.
Since the start of the KSD lawsuit, it has emerged that the COM has very specific plans for the M&O facility that were never shared or disclosed to the public, KSD, or the County of Marin:
- Offices and storage area for all COM Kentfield maintenance equipment and trucks. Many of which are likely using diesel fuels. This will literally be a fleet operations yard where many engines will be starting up and idling creating exhaust fumes and noise (including backup beepers) over the course of the school day when children will be outdoors playing and in the classrooms with windows open.
- Storage of hazardous materials (solvents, pesticides, fuel) to support all of COM’s Kentfield campus operations.
- Collection, storage, sorting, and transfer of ALL COM Kentfield Campus trash and recyclables. Basically, a trash dump. Planned for a field adjacent to a creek, a public school, and residential neighborhood. A place that will be smelly, attract pests, and create additional noise and vehicle traffic from trucks that will be bringing the trash to the site and the garbage collection trucks from Marin Sanitary.
KSD and COM are both publicly funded education entities paid for by residents like us. I am incensed that money that should be spent on educating our kids is having to be used to address a situation that should have never been created in the first place. The fault is squarely with COM.
This site is absolutely inappropriate for the uses that COM has planned. Furthermore, based on the actions it has taken to date, it seems that COM may have suspected that this facility would face public disapproval so they have tried to hide its true purpose for months, including not performing even basic and routine construction planning and environmental review that would have been required of any private entity who considered building such a facility in Marin.
Please keep in mind that this is not a construction issue anymore – this facility will continue to be used for the next 50 years. Within feet of the school and the Corte Madera Creek. Next to the walking/biking path that runs along the creek which countless people use every day. And next to the COM playing fields used year-round on the other side of this facility. Adjacent to a residential neighborhood. The views have already been forever altered by this project as has been the level of noise and odors. And no one was told it was going to happen.
If you haven’t already, I strongly recommend that you go to the site to see the situation for yourself. I am including some photos of the COM’s new buildings taken yesterday from the Kent Middle School campus. You don’t need to be an environmental expert to see that the scale and the proximity of the new COM buildings to the middle school and the Grant Grover building, as well as the creek, are creating an impact.
COM has already lost a lot of goodwill in Marin because of other projects they developed without proper review. And COM has lost credibility in the Marin courts as other recent suits have shown. I think it’s important that COM address this issue head on. Admit to the public what they intend to use this facility for. Perform the EIR that is obviously needed. And if necessary, consider moving the trash operations to another part of the COM campus where they won’t impact 600 middle school children and an important creek watershed.
This isn’t just a Kent Middle School issue – the facility will have a bigger impact on the community and we need to hold COM accountable for ensuring that it will mitigate the negative effects of whatever it plans to do there. If you agree, please sign this petition and help spread the word about this situation.