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October 15, 2008 > A celebration of collaboration

A celebration of collaboration

Submitted By Val Joyner

The Hayward education community celebrated the opening of its new, state-of-the-art Burbank Elementary School/ Cannery Park. Completed in August of 2008, the $45 million project is the result of a joint collaboration among three state and local agencies: Hayward Unified School District (HUSD), Hayward Area Recreation District (HARD), and the City of Hayward (COH).

In 1998 the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Hayward amended its Downtown Hayward Project to add the Burbank Neighborhood. Some of the earliest development in the City took place in this area, with the establishment of the Hunt-Wesson Cannery in 1896. The Cannery was the major employer in Hayward for many years, and at one time was one of the largest fruit/tomato canning operations world-wide. Burbank Elementary School, built to accommodate a student population of approximately 350, enrolled approximately 650 students, and had 25 portable classrooms parked on its playground. The Cannery Area Design Plan adopted by the City Council in July 2001 called for a new Burbank Elementary School

The Burbank Elementary School/ Cannery Park project is evidence that new beginnings are happening in Hayward. Located west of downtown Hayward, the school-park facility offers many benefits to the Burbank community as it integrates education and recreation. Sited directly adjacent to Cannery Park, the school has use of an expanded play area and an integrated community center for the entire neighborhood. "This is the first school in downtown Hayward in almost 60 years. I'm happy that the Burbank neighborhood has a school that they are proud of," said Dr. Dale W. Vigil, superintended of HUSD. "This all new state-of-the-art facility is just the beginning of more great things to come."

The Cannery Area Design Plan was created by Solomon E.T.C. Architecture, with EPS Economic Consultants and DHA Transport Consultants and won several awards, including the prestigious Ahwanee Award and an award from The Congress for New Urbanism. The construction contract was managed by Vanir Construction, which reported to both HUSD and the City's Public Works Department.

Park improvements were also begun in spring of 2007, under the management of HARD. During this time, the existing Burbank School continued to operate as the new school was built beside it. By June 2008, as school let out for the summer, both the new school and park were nearing completion. The old school was deconstructed and a final street connection was built in July and August of 2008, just as the new school was preparing to open. The expanded Cannery Park was open to the public by early August, and the new Burbank School was completed and opened on the first day of school, on August 25, 2008.

The new Burbank Elementary School was designed by Aedis Architects and constructed by WestBay Builders in a traditional Mission Revival style, which complements character of the Burbank Neighborhood. The new school is two stories and contains approximately 80,000 square feet, including 41 classrooms, and built to house 850 students. It features a library and large multi-use gymnasium featuring a full basketball court that will be programmed for community recreational use during after-school hours, under an operating agreement with HARD. The school also features a teaching garden, separate kindergarten play area, pull out music/science rooms, wireless teaching technology and many other state-of the art features.

The Cannery Park expansion improvements were designed by David L. Gates and Associates. Park improvements include new restroom facilities, new picnic facilities, distinctive climbing features and granite seats, a water play area, a small skateboard facility, and a basketball half-court. Louis M. Andrade, Board President, Hayward Area Recreation and Park District said, "Renovated Cannery Park has instantly become one of our most popular parks. While the park itself features cutting-edge playgrounds, water play and picnic areas, the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District's close work with the City of Hayward and the Hayward Unified School District has resulted in exceptional access to the adjacent Burbank School, effectively doubling on-site recreation opportunities during non-school hours."

The two existing baseball fields (heavily programmed by Little League) were retained, and the fields are now night-lit. Finally, the City provided a parking area for park users, which is separate from the school parking and student drop-off areas. Park improvements are a hit with the neighborhood, and the water feature has been very popular during the recent summer days.

The new Burbank School/Expanded Cannery Park is the result of a shared vision and exemplary collaboration between local and state agencies. The state of the art elementary school and innovative park and recreation area resulted in a unique joint recreation and park site. Designed and built to integrate the missions of both the school and recreation district, the integrated site will serve as an important community asset for many years to come. Mayor Mike Sweeney said, "The new Burbank School and the new Cannery Park are great additions to the neighborhood and great for the City of Hayward."

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