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ESBC chooses Hayden Rowe ‘Village’ design for Elmwood replacement

by | Feb 13, 2023 | Education, Featured: Education

Elmwood HR Village design

The Elementary School Building Committee on Monday voted unanimously (7-0) to choose a preferred schematic option called Hayden Rowe Village East, featuring three stories and three wings, for the Elmwood School replacement project.

The committee has been weighing the pros and cons of various designs at two sites: Elm Street (Elmwood’s current location) and Hayden Rowe Street. Members decided to incorporate some village features — such as separating the cafeteria and gymnasium, locating them on opposite sides coming through the main entrance.

Also up front will be the media center and guidance and administrative offices, while behind that will be three academic wings. Arranging the private and public spaces this way appealed to several members, with School Committee member Lya Batlle-Rafferty repeating her comparison to a house, putting the main rooms like the living space at the center of the home while smaller rooms like bedrooms are behind it.

Members of the committee also liked the east site configuration. Member Mike Shepard noted the location would be farther away from residences, would have a longer road, letting more school buses and parents dropping off students queue up onsite rather than spilling out onto Hayden Rowe Street, and would free up space between Marathon School and this proposed school for future expansion.

ESBC member Tiffany Ostrander said the possibility of walkways leading to the school from housing was appealing.

In answer to a question, Superintendent Carol Cavanaugh said she would prefer a three-wing setup versus a two-wing model because it would create a smaller school within the school. She described the arrangement as “very lovely. … Kids get used to the same people and same part, and assistant principals and other administrators get to know family members over a longer period of time.”

The grades could be broken up either by wing or by floor. Recently, the School Committee voted to have the proposed new Elmwood School house Grades 2-3-4.

Director of Buildings and Grounds Tim Persson said operationally it makes a lot of sense to have the Elmwood School replacement in the same area as the other campuses for the purposes of snow removal, landscaping, maintenance and more.

Elmwood Principal Anne Carver noted the proximity of the site will provide professional development and collaboration opportunities for the staff.

Earlier in the meeting, Carver said that although Elmwood’s current location is a “beloved spot,” the Hayden Rowe Street site is more manageable.

“Just trying to build a new building while you maintain excellence … I think that feels prohibitive,” she said of Elm Street’s options.

She said it would place a lot of stress on staff who are “just starting to recover from the stress of the pandemic. It’s not a good idea.”

VERTEX Project Director Jeff D’Amico noted that the east choice cost about $1.5 million more than the west because it is deeper on-site with longer feeder roads and requires longer utility runs and more asphalt paving, sidewalks, tree clearings and maintenance, among other things.

The total estimated cost would be $174 million but after deductions would be $162 million. D’Amico said he’s working with a 6 percent construction contingency and a 3 percent project contingency. In addition, there will be an impact depending on if geothermal energy versus a hybrid option is chosen in the future.

ESBC chair Jon Graziano brought up the fact that there is a town-owned parcel of land of about 22 acres on the overall 54 acres of property. He questioned whether this situation would limit the flexibility the town has to use that land.

Batlle-Rafferty noted there are 100-plus students in preschool, and a small building nestled with the proximity to Marathon and Elmwood could be fitting in the future as those numbers grow.

Persson mentioned that a possible use for the space was sports fields run by the Parks & Recreation Department, with controls put on use during the day. Other options mentioned were a tennis court or weekend-use parks.

“I don’t know what other groups want to get in that melee,” he said.

Select Board member Shahidul Mannan joked, “It’s not a good site for a fire station.”

The next steps are presentations on the selection to the School Committee on Friday and the Select Board on Feb. 28. After that, the ESBC approves the submission of the preferred schematic report and submits it to the Massachusetts School Building Authority the following day.

1 Comment

  1. Shari Matza

    Will a new school affect the flooding problems Blueberry Lane and Thayer Heights already have to deal with? Will there be appropriate drainage put in place?
    If this new school site will be behind our neighborhood, can you please consider having water run toward Hayden Rowe vs our neighborhood?
    After they put Marathon school in, we had a shift in water drainage to our homes.

    – Current 19 year resident on Blueberry

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