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Commentary: Adams Elementary fence belongs on perimeter

February 21, 2014|By Deborah Lucas

On Feb. 13, I attended the meeting held at Estancia High School regarding the layout of fencing to be installed at Adams Elementary School.

First, I want to commend Newport-Mesa Unified School District Supt. Fred Navarro for how well he led this sometimes-emotional meeting. The fact that there is going to be a fence installed is a done deal. All proposed layouts are basically the same across the front of the campus and will require visitors during school hours to check in through the front office before being able to come onto school property.

What is under debate is the configuration of the rest of the fencing.

Members of the Adams community, including parents, faculty and staff, unanimously prefer a layout that would follow the property line of the school. (Adams Principal Gabe Del Real has not taken a position on this and defers to the school board.) A fence along the property line achieves the goal of a safe and secure campus to the extent that any fence can.

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Seems simple, right?

Apparently not.

The neighbors at the meeting said they do not want the fence to run along the property line between the park and the campus. They want it to run along the blacktop of the school, dividing the blacktop from the playing field, thereby cutting the Adams campus in two.

They feel that a fence along the property line, which is about 70 feet back from the sidewalk and behind the park, is not aesthetically pleasing.

Five days a week there are 400-plus students on the playground, moving between the blacktop and the field before school and during three recesses and three staggered lunch periods. If a fence is placed along the blacktop, the students and all adult supervisors would have to go through gates to move between their blacktop and their grassy area. All so that an after-hours neighbor visiting the campus wouldn't have to go through one unlocked gate?

Does that make sense?

Neighbors described a fence as feeling "restrictive" and conveying a feeling of "isolation," and they don't want that in their neighborhood. They prefer that the students and staff of the school be the ones to experience whatever "restriction" and "isolation" a fence through the middle of their campus may create. That's all right with them.

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