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Napa Junction Elementary School

This rendering depicts the planned, new Napa Junction Elementary School on Eucalyptus Drive in American Canyon. The school is being relocated from a site on an earthquake fault, with the new version slated to open in August 2020.

AMERICAN CANYON — A planned relocation of Napa Junction Elementary School is raising concerns about traffic and access to adjacent Paintball Jungle, though answers lie in part with the city of American Canyon.

The Napa Valley Unified School District held a community meeting on Tuesday at the existing version of the American Canyon school to talk things out. About 25 people attended.

“As a school system and a school, we want to be good neighbors,” said Mike Pearson, the district’s executive director of Facilities, Maintenance and Operations.

The district is relocating Napa Junction Elementary from 300 Napa Junction Road about a block from Highway 29 to along Eucalyptus Drive near Wetlands Edge Park and a residential neighborhood. The reason is that the present site is over the West Napa fault.

Paintball Jungle owners voiced no problem with the school relocation in-and-of itself. But they noted that plans call for paving the shared access road and turning it into a cul-de-sac before it reaches their outdoor paintball park, apparently leaving no access for their customers.

“That would destroy our business, basically,” co-owner Karen Kazman said.

“We don’t want to put anyone out of business,” Pearson said.

Kazman wants a gate at the end of the cul-de-sac that Paintball Jungle could open to allow customers to reach the business. District officials said that’s up to the city.

City Manager Jason Holley on Thursday said city officials will work with the property owners and businesses that would be affected to assure access. The properties won’t be land-locked, with details to come.

The new Napa Junction Elementary is to open in August 2020, if things go as planned. Pearson showed those attending the meeting plans to handle bus traffic and traffic from parents dropping off children at the school.

“I’m pretty confident this is a good flow,” Pearson said. “No school site’s perfect, we all know that, nothing’s perfect. But this is going to be pretty good for traffic and things like that. And if it’s not, we’re going to come back out and we’re going to figure out how we’re going to help you out.”

Some residents have another concern about the planned elementary school and related cul-de-sac. On the other side of Paintball Jungle, a warehouse could be built in the Green Island business park that would extend the Commerce Boulevard cul-de-sac.

The ends of the cul-de-sac created for the school and the cul-de-sac created for the warehouse would be less than 2,000 feet apart. Connecting them would create a through road linking the Wetlands Edge Road residential area and the business park.

Holley tried to tamp down those fears.

“That construction activity won’t build the through road,” Holley said in a phone interview. “What we’re trying to do is build the two cul-de-sacs.”

One reason for the concerns is the city’s general plan calls for a west side connector. A road is supposed to someday punch through from the business park to somewhere on Eucalyptus Drive. Connecting the cul-de-sacs would fulfill that vision.

The city held a Jan. 17 meeting on the west side connector. Community Development Director Brent Cooper said the only connection planned between the two cul-de-sacs is a bike path.

As for the proposed west side connector, Cooper said the city will look at the issue again starting this summer when it begins updating its general plan.

“We’ll be working with all of you and others on road networks there and elsewhere in the city as well, where we have some flexibility because roads have not yet been built,” Cooper said.

The goal of a west side connector is to give residents a way to travel north-to-south in the city without getting onto Highway 29. But some residents fear the road would be used by Highway 29 drivers seeking to avoid congestion.

Go to https://bit.ly/2WPdP6W to see a website posted by American Canyon on its west side connector plans and the cul-de-sac plan for the school and warehouse.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.