The Best School Choice

On December 4th, Acton and Boxborough town meetings will vote on a $1.3 million article for a school construction feasibility study. The AB school committee has indicated that it supports construction of a new twin school. It has also repeatedly stated a construction site preference at the Gates elementary school property.

Our schools must be made fully accessible for people with disabilities as soon as possible and, most importantly, all proposed options reviewed in this feasibility study accomplish this goal. Accessibility is a civil rights issue and a must.

It should also be pointed out that there are considerable issues with the Gates property that were overlooked or ignored by the school committee:

1. The proposed building is barely 100 feet from the Fort Pond Brook wetlands / floodplain / floodway (an area where flood waters discharge as part of a flood event). Feasibility analysis must consider not only existing FEMA maps, but known flood areas not reflected in FEMA maps. New FEMA maps are expected shortly. (Existing FEMA flood maps are freely available online through the town GIS mapping website.)

2. Both access roads to the Gates property are connected to Arlington St. via Spruce St., a narrow, residential road, and a driveway. A twin school will dramatically increase school traffic congestion and pollution already burdening this dense residential area of West Acton Village.

These simple observations clearly indicate that at least two or more sites should be included and compared in the feasibility study, in parallel¸ to determine which has the least ecological and community impact as well as being the most cost effective and accessible to Acton as a whole (e.g. Building on Douglas land or Conant land, building elsewhere in Acton) with the option of also renovating the existing Douglas school.

Collected objective data for all options should, at least, include:

1. A complete building accessibility evaluation
2. A carbon footprint study
3. Examination of all floodplain issues (including consideration of the 100 and 500-year floodplains and floodways), preservation of wetlands, shoreline, and effect on the town's water supply.
4. Comprehensive traffic impact studies

Whether or not the feasibility study is approved on December 4th, we owe it to the future of all in our region to require that above-mentioned objective data is in the forefront of determining our best community outcome.

Kurt Marden, PE
Terra Friedrichs
Danny Factor

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Good points

Good points here. I will try to share this on the big "closed" facebook group page (now with 1600 members) which was spawned by the school district's forced resignation of Dr. Brand. Thanks, Danny, Terra and Kurt.
Steve Ballard