TONIGHT June 17, 2019 Ward 1 City Councilor Scott Memhard will host another Ward 1 Community Meeting and update on the East Gloucester Elementary School building project from 6 to 8 p.m., at Gloucester City Hall’s Kyrouz Auditorium.
The agenda will include a presentation and Q&A with members of the Gloucester School Committee, the EGS School Building Committee, and our EGS designer/project manager Dore & Whittier Architects. Time allowing, any other community concerns or matters of Ward 1 interest may also be raised & discussed.
Catch up on plans (with building committee’s link added today to last week’s June 13 presentation- note Green Street changes)
Dore & Whittier presented options for new elementary schools (specifically related to consolidation of East Gloucester and Veterans Memorial Schools or just East Gloucester) to the EGS Building Committee Thursday, June 13th at 5 pm. This meeting was not a public forum. However, all present reiterated that questions and concerns are most welcome at the Ward 1 Community Meeting June 17, 2019 at City Hall (details below).
Potential options for three sites were color coded for review
- YELLOW for East Gloucester School Site
- BLUE for Veterans Memorial School Site
- GREEN for Schoolhouse Road Site formerly labeled “Green Street” site
School Committee Chairman John Pope and Brad Dore of Dore & Whittier stressed that none of these plans are final. “It’s a long process. MSBA requires options. So these 14 options will be whittled down to 8 options that must go foward. Hopefully by next April, after due diligence and consideration, we’ll move forward to the next phase.” Costs are not factored for any of these options at this point in this process so as to base school design on best fit learning requirement rather than price (see “Matrix” slide). Sub committee will vote on the criteria (see “schedule” slide). Dore & Whittier consulting related to this phase is about $70,000. “These options are diagrammatic. None prove that they can be successful or can move ahead, only that they go to the next level of review. They are just a level of screening. The process is iterative.”
For all three sites, plans focused on parking for staff and visitors without addressing neighborhood traffic impact. All proposals tried to take into account access to community spaces (ie. gym and media center) after hours, parent pick up/drop off, and separation of outdoor space and service access. MSBA guidelines suggest 80 parking spaces per 220 students and 117 per 440 students. “Typically these projects find relief granted for parking and zoning,” said Dore. While new schools are built, students will need to be relocated. Chairman Pope said they’d need to press city on options.
A round up of Pros and Cons related to the recent West Parish construction and its use and operating costs since being built might be helpful. Some West Parish feedback that made the news ranged from small inconveniences (no dishwasher) to larger concerns about design (despite ample site the gymnasium was not designed with enough space for spectators, the design of the parking lot did not take into account ease in snowplowing and numerous vehicular/traffic snafus). There was no discussion about these proposals within a broader context of all the school properties, all the elementary schools, merging with Rockport, what happens with development of the older sites if Schoolhouse Road option is undertaken, etc.
targeting July 18th for cost reveals
1)East Gloucester Elementary School Site- 5 options both single school and consolidation
Dore & Whittier ascertained that the school’s field is deeded and there’s no option of building out into that green space. It’s already off to a poor start as “the site is reduced by 2.5 acres.” [See 2016 EGS school consolidiation meeting– we already knew this. Ditto consideration of Espresso’s lot, now sold but was available.] Based on their commentary narration, Dore & Whittier does not seem in favor of this option:
- “A two story option would have structural problems to consider and cons such as creating darker classrooms on the ground floor.”
- “It would exceed setback lines.” “Extra permitting”
- “Storm Water management is difficult.”
- “Topography is difficult. All rock!”
- There are just so many noted deficiencies. “Generally compressing into a small site means a LOT more money.”
- Option B3 Problem as no separation of Delivery and Playtime; stressed again how difficult it is to build two stories. “Will this even get through the fire department even with so many difficult permitting issues? The plans push against lot line and trucks may not get back there.” [ed. so why is this presented as an option?]
- Option C1 430 students is a 3 story option “will recreate parking on street basically the same as now but worse.”
- Option D NEW School pushes building back, room for 56 parking spots
- D1 2 story
- E1 440 students 3 story options
- E2 crossing property line either by right or by purchase. Brad Dore explained that decisions of that sort happen at the state level. (I think he meant long/difficult route.)
- One question from the audience went unanswered and encouraged to attend Ward 1 meeting: “Has neighborhood high impact and infrastructure concerns been considered (water/sewer presumably affected with increase to 440 students)?”
2)Veterans Memorial site- 2 options
Plans here were also categorized as failing. “No doubt there are lots of challenges for this one.” Brad Dore said. “Plans here are tortured.”
- F1 440 students with 80 parking spaces preserving ball field
- F2 on the ball field
3)Schoolhouse Road / formerly Green Street Site – 2 options
- 3 story, 440 students
September 14, 2016 GMG post school consolidation meeting at West Parish HERE
September 27, 2016, GMG post, Ward 1 Community Discussion about new elementary schools at East Gloucester Elementary School HERE
In February 2017, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), a state agency, moved the Gloucester school consolidation proposal further along in its funding process. The MSBA cost page is here where you will find information and data about schools built either a)2008-2013 or b) 2014-current. West Parish is in there. (List of MSBA projects completed for Gloucester) MSBA splits out designer and project management phases from the final build which means you have to go back and forth between documents. Expected life span for new buildings is 40 years.
October 2017 City Begins Quest for new Merged School: Search on for funding for East Gloucester-Veterans study, Gloucester Daily Times article by Ray Lamont HERE
October 2018 GMG post MSBA school committee school consolidation update HERE
Spring 2019, School building committee website set up spring 2019 https://eastgloucesterbuildingproject.weebly.com. NEW! A link to the presentation was added June 17, 2019- note changes at Green Street location