“It really comes down to traffic and safety, whether its 2,000 students or 1,800,” he said. “They have every right to open a charter school. The point is what they’re proposing for that site, it’s not safe.”
The plans, he said, also show smaller classrooms than district classrooms, which average 750 square feet.
“Their average classroom’s 580 square feet,” he said. “They’re like sardines.”
Objections to the school echo a similar battle waged by Coral Gables residents when Somerset took over Christ Journey Church, formerly University Baptist Church, and tried to increase the number of students enrolled in the church preschool from 110 to 700. Like those residents, Kendall neighbors have hired Gibbs, who succeeded at having enrollment at the Gables school capped at 260.
Gibbs explained to residents Thursday that if they oppose the project, they must let commissioners know.
“They have told us they will be open this year with 290 students,” he explained. “So you will see what 290 students brings to your neighborhood.”
Neighbor Jose Suarez, an architect whose glass and concrete home abuts the school campus, formed the East Kendall Homeowners Federation in April and asked residents to donate money to help wage the legal battle. Donations can be made through the group’s web site: www.ekhf.org.
“We’re not against schools. We’re not against education. But we are against what they’re trying to do to our neighborhood,” he said. “We are going to need your financial support, because this is going to be very expensive for us.”
Residents, many of whom received more than 3,500 flyers mailed by the group, asked about getting yard signs printed and vowed to hand out additional flyers.
“I will go door to door and get bodies to come to this meeting,” said resident Nancy Lyons. “We can’t accommodate the traffic we have now. What do you think it’s going to be with 2,000 more students?... Our whole little community is going to go to the dogs. It won’t be worth anything.”