The effort to build a new Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary has cleared a key hurdle.
The hearing examiner for the city of Bainbridge Island has approved the site plan, design review and conditional use for the project.
Voters approved a bond measure to pay for a new Blakely Elementary in February 2016. The Bainbridge Island School District has been working since then to finalize plans for the new school and to gain needed permits from the city.
The existing Blakely Elementary — built in 1963 — will be used until the summer of 2019, then demolished and replaced by a new building that’s approximately 65,000 square feet in size. (The current school covers 41,259 square feet on 12.17 acres.)
A conditional use permit was needed to allow the height of the new school to be increased from 30 to 35 feet.
The new Blakely is expected to serve a student population of 450 children and 27 teachers.
Construction of the new school will result in the removal of 58 trees, but school district officials have said the trees will be replaced as mandated by city regulations.
School construction will also occur within the buffer area next to a large wetland on the east side of the school property near IslandWood.
To mitigate the impact to the wetland buffer, the school district will create a new forested area with native tree and shrub plantings on land that’s now used for lawn and play areas on the school property. Bainbridge’s hearing examiner noted that approach would result in a larger area of habitat on the property, and a “higher functioning buffer,” than if the current buffer was left as-is.