Monday, March 3, 2014

Nelson Place public hearing (preliminary design) liveblog

Here at Nelson Place for the public hearing. I won't be posting the presentation, as it is the same as last week's, but I'll post comments and answers as I have them.

Note that June 4 MSBA Board meeting is planned as the date on which vote for preferred design will happen. Design to happen over the summer; approval in November.
(note that these and all dates assume that the state approves. Right now, the state has to be convinced that all options were actually examined before these three were selected as the best. Once that rolls forward, the building committee selects one, and there will be a board vote on moving Nelson Place out of feasibility.)

Nelson Place originally built in 1926, with additions in 1953, and (two in) 1967 and sits on 9.5 acres
(original Nelson Place architect was Jasper Rustigian and here's what it looked like:)

note that wetlands "pinch" the site and the school property is the backyards of the neighborhood
"not an agenda of the administration to renovate a school that is occupied"
in reviewing the other options, there is some disbelief from the crowd that the McGrath/Forest Grove option was not more seriously looked at

Construction to take "two years or more"

Public comment:
  • when are the neighbors going to be asked? Much concern that neighbors haven't been invited or asked anything about the process...letters out to abutters, people in the area haven't known, neighbors who asked haven't been appointed to the committee
  • if you get the property from Assumption on Romola Road, are you going to open it up as public access? Assumption's plans for the property included sports fields, objected by neighborhood, didn't happen...twenty feet of grade change. Just talking to Assumption about that land now, no intent to take private homes beyond that
  • why is the site at Forest Grove and McGrath taken off the table when you still have a major traffic problem? Because it wasn't in the Doherty quadrant (not true, by the way; Forest Grove is, McGrath is not; also note that quadrants are set by School Committee vote and thus are changable), working well for population that is there, would use all of space of field...
  • activity at school: full year? Yes, full year school, with reduced amount of students and reduced amount of hours in summer
  • formal environmental impact study? Not yet but will be (no EIR or ENF triggered, though). Wetland scientists have been on site already, will be reviewed, vernal pools on site
  • concern for land itself? Wooded since at least the 1940s Also, I found out subsequently: the property that Assumption now holds has been on the Open Space Top Ten List since 1987.
  • rectangular field: will it be permitted? Yes, that is the intent. Have to have access for the public. disbelief from public that public access won't be farther in. Public should have no reason to come further up the street of Nelson Place
  • "only way in and out is going to be where it always was, then" (I think the answer to this is basically yes)
  • concern about ongoing flow of traffic: attempt by administration to defend that there is space for parents to pull in on site, with no cars off the site...parking on street not allowed now, neighbors comment that people park there anyway
  • does the city have the ability to take the property for the school? Yes, they do. 
  • can the school be kept intact during building? That is the intent, yes.
  • is it safe for the construction to be going on with current building as it is? Structural engineer says yes, but others would confirm that before any building happened.
  • "I would not to live here while this was going on...value of my property is where it is" "decimates whole area" to have this construction done here
  • want to make school no more than two stories, close in site for energy efficiency
  • size concerns due to serving special education students, rather than in basement; question as to why students were brought here if there wasn't space in the first place
  • I should point out here that if you're trying to picture size: the plan is for a 110,00 square foot building. Norrback is 113,000 square feet, so that's not a bad estimate.
  • any chance of sharing fields with Assumption? Possibly. Assumption can't meet Title IX requirements as it is. Possibly Assumption is looking to team up with WPI on field use
  • comment that Mercy Center is closing in June, but perhaps only day school for kids closing; remaining program will continue
  • comment that there won't be any forest left, and upset water table by clearing site; drainage issues
  • suggestion that elementary be consolidated on McGrath site with Pre-K-2 and grade 3-6 new building: have we thought of that? response is "stressing a current site" Oh, and we've got a neighbor who read the whole report since last week! "and I think you'd be saving the city a whole lot of money" Response that it was looked at: traffic issues on Forest, use of fields behind Forest Grove, etc
  • comment that public was not brought in until after vote was taken
  • Higgins property on Salisbury was not looked at; some query about neighborhood vs district school due to size of building and programs being accommodated
  • "still have to come up the same road" community not pleased by prospect of widening road, either
and that's a wrap

No comments: