Monday, May 19, 2014

Nelson Place public hearing liveblog!

posting as we go...full house in the school cafeteria
Second phase of feasibility
presentation, then questions and comments
"huge document with the school and the city and some neighbors...what is important to the school?"
Presented (it was?)
"come to one solution, put to a vote of the building committee, submit to MSBA" (if approved by the building committee)

current reading submitted written comments from Safe Routes to School: "prioritize vehicle access...will not encourage families to consider access by foot or bike"
Presentation is here 
"more thought should be put into safe and convenient access by those walking and biking"
Owner project manager reviewing timeline: note that if all goes as expected, construction would be Sept 2015-March 2017
Architects: "lot of input in the design project"
inner workings of how this is designed: why school has the wings it does, the contiguity it does
sustainable design...part of the study that we're putting together tonight
site program plans on 140 daily parking spaces, with 200 event parking spaces
substantially separate bus and car lines
plan of 60 car lineup for parent pickup
"also the biking and the walking traffic to the school is in the mix"
wetlands on site
"isolated land subject to flooding" on site
biologists have been up there three times and "have found that they are not vernal pools" (which is met with audience disbelief)
"one is non-juristictional, so there are no setbacks with that"
"we had looked at number of different sites throughout the city"
look at three options at Nelson Place location (there are no off-site options): Assumption option has fallen off
now just looking at right of way on Assumption land and taking land from neighbors for access
Renovation (which must be studied) : retain existing building from cafeteria up the road (newest piece)
with three story new construction behind the existing building
parking and access roads to the property line
new construction on existing
parking lot in front on current site (ish..behind)
three wings off central section
"this scheme does not meet site programs"
"you do not have full parent pick up, and do not have parking areas needed, and retaining walls"
new construction on additional land
rear land of house lots taken
small courtyard in the middle
two, two story sections with one story admin section
multiple parking lots in front
"there are no setbacks
easterly one has a 15 and 30 foot setback (for building and paving); no setback on the westerly one (which means that they can built right up to the edge of the water)
bit of a back and forth here on which are vernal pools; Assumption has vernal pools on their lands; neighborhood concern regarding wetlands on the property
last plan has a back access to Romula for emergency
coming and going to school is still off of Nelson Place? Yes, though biking and walking could come through.
as another option, "costing out" parking deck (aka: a parking garage in front of the school)
another scheme that arranges parent pick up differently
Q on why so much parking; essentially trying to get all cars off the street
June 2 building committee to select one of these to move ahead with schematic design
Q why was plan with Assumption taken off the table? If not talking about field, why are not still talking to college about taking their property?
aside from Romula, building up the hill
"Hoping to get feedback from everyone here as to which scheme they like best and move forward from there"
Q why two tiered parking?
one option looked at, to take away from surfacing parking
Q do people have to look at it?
"significant amount of landscaping, significant cost to build structure"
Q amount of blasting
the answer here is basically, yes, it's ledge
"design a blasting program" to excavate
Q "still only one way out and one way in" to the school
some parking comments here "that's to be expected when you live in the space of a school"
"at the time that we designed Roosevelt , we weren't facing these issues of parent pick up that we are now, but times they are a' changing...we can't deny parents that"
response "This property was never meant for a super school"
DPW going to do work on Nelson Place road for widening
reference to parents waiting all the way down onto 122: "you should find another location"
suggestion for multiple story, smaller footprint
"you've said you can't stop can by design"
catchment area? Indian Hill and Nelson Place...response is that kids can walk
DPW: no crossing guard on 122 (hey, we can do that!)
Suggestion to talk to Assumption to allow through traffic for student drop off
"to facilitate and be part of a neighborhood" not overwhelm the neighborhood
Response: like parking all the way around the building
description of dismissal of Nashoba (900 students)
concern about Deborah Drive and Nelson Park Drive (which is the little loop across the school); access and parking in front of those houses
"reality of it when you live here, is streets are always going to have this parking situation"
Response: Don't support any plan that involves any of the land taking. Not just property values, it's the green space, identified as a Top Ten green space
DPW: would you rather see, visually a 12 foot high retaining wall at the school?
concern about safety, due to visual lines to wings of school by administration
though most of our schools don't have that, so...
Q about best access: description of barriers with alarms
Neighbor sees back access as being more than emergency access in the back eventually
personal opinion of DPW is that Assumption property cannot be graded for field
concern that opening the road will make that field more easily developed; couldn't it be a trail?
Norrback, Roosevelt, Gates Lane have access to a major street; Nelson Place does not
site not appropriate for size of school being suggested
"we know you need a new's just where it goes"
concern with dismissing kids into the Hancock Hill neighborhood on Hapgood because there are no sidewalks
DPW is "considering construction access" from Hapgood Road
Q why is Hapgood the only access you've got?
you've got Hancock Hill; which does not allow commercial vehicles, so they're stuck on Hapgood
suggestion that DPW might waive regulation banning commercial traffic on Hancock Hill
comment "I've never seen a school that isn't in the front of the school" where the school doesn't face the street (Norrback, North, Roosevelt...)
Q any thought of moving kids out to build?
don't have swing space within WPS; modular classrooms are expensive
suggestion could construct on current school location if students were moved out during construction
monitoring of blasting at site and on nearby location
times of construction? 7-3 (or so)
Q has anyone considered construction traffic and state of roads?
yes, but we're not there yet
comment that it seems as if the city is moving ahead with one of these options, regardless
"why am I here? What if I say I really don't want to give my land up? My saying it means nothing!"
"we don't want this thing happening"
start blasting next to a building that's shored up with kids in it
DPW says building is "safer now than it was when it was built"
don't really know what the cost is going to be when blasting is going on, as opposed to fixed costs
"it seems as though some options have come off the table" that could be useful
Q is if the building committee is here; most of them are
DPW comment that they aren't touching the wetlands
concern about moving children for building being disruptive, should that be something that happens
"want to give school department the best school we can"
advantage of traffic movement to allow limited staff to monitor dismissal of kids
"to enable kids to get in and out"
current school population is 502; building for 600
comment: "if we're going to build all of these roads, let's really get tough with speeding"
playground access and noise (they're all in the back)
suggestion faculty parking elsewhere: off site or at Assumption
plan is already to have faculty park in whatever are the spaces that are farther away
urging to plan school such that parking is not the focus; walking should be
"just seems that this is being forced on us, relative to the footprint"
"it's wrong and it needs to be's a neighborhood school"
"seems like this was designed in an office somewhere and dropped down on the neighborhood"
comment (again) that looked at other sites
school department "has some pretty complex requirements, and it's plainly amazing to me that they can do it in the facilities that they have" (DPW)
opening a footpath on the back opens traffic to another area (like at Norrback)
comment: technically they are historic building: "I'm just disappointed to see that taken off the table"
some quibble as to if parents would drop off kids at other end of property (they not only would; they already do)
some question as to where buses would be directed and flow through; it depends on which plan goes forward, but plan is to get buses off the road, all cars off the road, and no overlap of traffic
Q: where did the number 140 parking come from?
120 faculty and staff; plus 20 visitors during the day
Principal comments currently no handicapped parking at the school
currently 40 parking spaces on site; 65 staff members
increase in staff due to changes in programming, addition in programming
comment that schools were built without kitchens at one point; we try to do better now
architect that there is minor footprint savings by having it go up another story
plan of traffic is in Ashland; separating cars and buses
And that's it. Vote is June 2, 7 pm, at the school. 

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