Neighbors appealing Richland's "Two School" plan at Sacajawea

Neighbors appealing Richland's "Two School" plan at Sacajawea
RICHLAND, Wash. -- Richland's plan to house two schools on one campus has neighbors fighting back.

They worry about the safety and traffic issues that would come with combining Marcus Whitman students on the Sacajawea campus.

Richard Beutler is fuming about the decision to house students from two campuses on one property right next to his backyard.

"The school district needs to re-evaluate their thought process on this," He says.

Richard's not against expanding the schools, but he already sees traffic as an issue near Sacajawea Elementary.

Adding the traffic that comes with a second school could be a big problem in his eyes.

"They're joining and interfacing with George Washington Way which would create a tremendous traffic burden and possible safety hazards to the children," he added.

The Richland Planning Department didn't see the problems when it okayed the plan.

"Appeals are actually fairly unusual for us. We haven't had one in several years," says Planning Director Rick Simon.

He says if an appeal of the plan is upheld, it would mean the school district might have to find a new location for Marcus Whitman students while their school is remodeled.

One option would include digging up the old school. That could cost the district as much two million dollars.

But Richland says its time line would not be affected.

"It's really council's evaluation to make a judgment call about whether they have adequate comment or information to make a decision," says Simon.

Apart from traffic, Richard is also worried that with a new school so close to his property, his back yard pool could spell disaster.

"If we build the school closer to our property, then it's just raising the chance of that happening, and it only takes once and it would be unforgivable," Richard says.

Richard hopes he and his neighbors' concerns will be able to influence the council.

Ultimately, the decision will come down to a vote.

Reps from the Richland school district say doubling up the schools is the most viable option.

The decision to reject or uphold the appeal will be made Tuesday.