Green Woods Charter Gets Community Support for New School

Ridge Park Civic approves project; some neighbors held traffic concerns.

An active but largely supportive community approved construction plans for a new charter school building to be built on Domino Lane in Roxborough.

With traffic concerns the only major deterrent, the Ridge Park Civic Association voted to support application to purchase the property and turn it into a 60,000-square foot, three-story school.

"We want to develop a community based school where we welcome the community after we build, before we build... and that's one reason we're here. We want to develop a school that will service the future," said architect Joe Jancuska from j2a Architects.

Green Woods Expansion 

Founded in 2002 as an environmental school, Green Woods currently has a campus in Upper Roxborough at the .

"The idea for us is pass off generation after generation of students who really understand what it means to be good stewards of the environment," CEO Jean Wallace said.

The School Reform Commission approved an increase in the charter's enrollment to 675 by 2018, which will require the $12 to 13 million expansion project.

Unable to expand at that property, the school community support in Chestnut Hill last year. Already the school increased kindergarten, first, second and third grade classrooms, and for 2012-13 will hold class at the vacant St. John's and St. Mary's Catholic schools in Manayunk.

The goal is to open the new Domino Lane school by fall 2013. Developer John Parsons said the new school, setback from the road, will be two buildings—a 27-classroom main section, with gymnasium and outdoor classroom area, which connects to an administration building by an aerial bridge.

Already, the Water Department, City Planning and Streets Department have approved preliminary plans. Following acquiring the property from Bill Keenan, the school will precede to zoning. 

Traffic Concerns

Domino Lane exists as a major thoroughfare between Roxborough and Manayunk. Some residents raised concerns that adding school buses and student drop-off would add to congestion already bogged down by delivery trucks, , SEPTA, and the Sanitation Department building on Umbria Street.

"The traffic on Domino Lane, where I live, is significant... Having those buses come through and U-turn back out Domino Lane—I can't imagine any more traffic during the rush hour period," resident Stacey Graham said.

John Dankiw has lived in the area his whole life and watched the traffic grow on the road.

"It's not going to work there. You put a flashing sign up for school kids, that whole place is going to shut down," he said.

Wallace counted by saying the drop-off window would be 20 minutes in the morning and afternoon and only five buses would serve the school.

Graham said later she doesn't oppose the project but wishes a traffic study would occur.

Ridge Park board member Patti Brennan said the civic would discuss the issue with Super Fresh, in the hopes of alleviating some of the road's congestion.

Buffer Issues

Neighbors living on bordering properties felt the construction may cut down on their green vistas.

Though set back, Green Woods planned to install a quarter-mile track around the property, which would abut neighbors' properties. Those neighbors liked the design and favored the project more than others proposed for that property. However, they weren't thrilled to loose their trees.

"We like the property for the same reason you do. We like the green space. The school preaches green. It's called Green Woods for a reason... The last thing this school wants to do is be intrusive," said Parsons, from Bensalem-based BSI Construction.

Parsons and Jancuska said they were amendable to alterations, and would organize a sit-down with property owners to discuss better buffering.

For more information on Green Woods, visit its website.

Concerned Roxborough Resident April 02, 2012 at 08:41 PM
I have to agree with residents in the area. Traffic will increase exponentially. Even at a 20 minute window in the morning and afternoon, you have to take in to consideration that right now they are saying there is only 5 school buses plus whatever parents drive their chilren to and from school. But add in the expasion to over 600 students they plan for in the future and the fact that the board of trustees resolved in their October meeting to request a recharter for a high school allowing enrollment up to 1100 students, you have to wonder how the traffic will increase in such a highly congested area.


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