As an engineering firm for the high school track, field and parking lot project is preparing a final design, its representatives recently conducted surveys, flagged wetlands and appeared informally before boards and commissions.
As part of that process, Milone & MacBroom associate Thomas J. Daly spoke to the Zoning and Conservation commissions last week.
Daly said the firm wanted to get as much input as possible before coming back with a formal plan, likely in January, for the 3.6-million plan voters approved 3,034 to 2,112 on election day.
Milone & MacBroom has completed its surveying and other fieldwork and in combination with the feedback and town guidance, will work on a final design.
Daly, however, gave each commission an overview using the current drawings, which he felt should be pretty good representation of the overall plan.
“We feel the plans as presented give a good approach,” he said.
Those plans include a full-sized field large enough for soccer and other sports such as lacrosse and football and the 6-lane “fat” track that accommodates an 8-lane sprint section and other features.
Also on the plans are parking lot improvements that include a boulevard entrance with one lane in and two out, improved north-south orientation that would separate bus cuing and lot access and a gain of 26 parking spaces.
Preliminary plans also include a secondary access but Daly said whether it is emergency, limited, pestrian only or vehicular in nature were still being worked out.
Education and town officials have expressed an interest in starting construction next summer with the hope of completing the project in the fall of 2013 but acknowledge the timing is tight.
Last week, commission members and one resident did raise some potential issues surrounding the project.
One is something that will likely not directly be part of the plan — field lighting. The referendum funding did not include funding for for it, bleachers and a scoreboard after the finance board trimmed $500,000 from the proposal. Education officials and others have also stated that the town would not apply for the lights in January but rather raise the funds at a future date and go back for permission. (Such lighting is currently not allowed but changes in the zoning regulations and/or a zoning variance could potentially be granted).
While some observers have said the commissions have no business discussing aspects not in the application, others contend that if the town moves forward to with a plan to include conduits to accommodate future lighting, it has opened the door for discussion.
Weintraub contended people should be able to see where the project is headed. He said he’d like to see a master plan that showed where items such as lights and a press box would go.
Commission members also said people will have a chance to comment on the plan.
Although Town Planner Neil Pade said its not required, he said the Zoning Commission can hold a public hearing on the proposal. Commissioner indicated that they would almost certainly hold one.
“It’s almost a commercial impact in the neighborhood,” member Phil Pane said.
At the conservation commission presentation, member Sarah Faulkner said as currently designed the boulevard entry shows too much encroachment on a nearby wetland and will further degrade it. She contended that wood frogs still breed in the pool, although member Jay Kaplan disagreed.
“I feel a little bamboozled,” Faulkner said. “We were told there was no wetland impact on the project. That’s clearly not true.”
Daly said the plan does not directly impact the wetland itself but agreed it goes into the “upland review” area and will need Inland Wetlands Watercourse Agency approval. He said that board will take a serious look at the application. Daly said that while he felt the entrance/exit could likely be narrowed somewhat he would not be in favor of removing the boulevard aspect because it is safer. He also said the firm will have a complete report on the potential impact.
All agreed the wetland is not “high quality” due to fragmentation and direct discharge into it.
Another concern raised last week came from abutting property owner Steve Bemis, who expressed disappointment when he was told he couldn’t comment at the zoning meeting but had the chance to do it with the conservation commission.
Bemis said his children were excited about the project and will use the track but added that as configured it’s just too close to his property. As staked, it’s about 30 feet away, he said.
“I’m just trying to lessen the impact on our lives,” he said.
Daly said he could not honestly tell Bemis whether the placement could be adjusted until the formal mapping and surveying is complete.
He did, however, reiterate that the firm would do its best to incorporate the suggestions as much as possible.
“I assure you that both your comments and Steve’s comments are not being taken lightly,” he told the conservation commission.
In addition to mapping and survey information, he said he would talk to town officials about how to tweak the plan for the application.