WINDERMERE Windermere Preparatory School and Orange County staffs brought some big proposals to the table Jan. 21 during a community meeting at the school’s Learning Commons.
The proposals discussed consisted of changes and expansions to Windermere Prep’s campus; two of the biggest being plans for a two-story visual and performing arts theater and changes to external and internal traffic flows.
The new building would house all visual and performing-arts classes, as well as school performances. Plans for it include a fly loft, which houses scenery, drapery and equipment needed to put on productions. School staff said it hopes to equip visual and performing-arts students with all the knowledge necessary to not only perform in but also to run a production, and that a fly loft is crucial to that experience.
“Our goal is to have a full immersive experience with our students,” said WPS managing director John McCall regarding the visual and performing arts center.
However, in spite of a 1998 agreement that calls for campus buildings to not exceed 35 feet in height, having a fly loft will require a height variance of 5 feet for the main building and 13 feet for the loft. Existing variances are the gym and high-school buildings, which each stand at 40 feet high.
Another proposal of particular concern to residents included multiple roadway modifications, mainly internal to the campus. In the wake of a traffic consultation from Traffic & Mobility Consultants LLC, points of concern regarding traffic included limited campus entrance and exit capacities and complicated internal traffic circulation patterns. Some proposed solutions include widening the primary driveway to four lanes and moving back the guard gate, as well as adding parking and a new high-school entrance.
Other points of discussion included increasing student enrollment capacity from 1,200 to 1,600 and capping staff capacity at 250 (current staff is at 180); expanding the current cafeteria from 1,000 to 7,000 square feet; reducing the size of and relocating the maintenance facility to the back of the campus; modifying the north and west berms; and allowing Kensington Church to use the new visual and performing arts center for Sunday services.
With the discussion of increasing student enrollment, some residents showed concern for additional traffic clogging State Road 535 during the prime morning and afternoon hours, particularly in conjunction with traffic that the new relief high school down the road will bring.
Additionally, nearby homeowners from the Waterstone community and Kelso Homeowners Association expressed concern regarding noise and lights from the theater, as well as modifications to the north and west berms and their landscaping.
Contact Orange County Case Planner Rocco Relvini for more information on Windermere Prep expansion plans at [email protected] or (407) 836-5386.
Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].