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WVN #246: New districts, poor technology grade

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  • waylandvoters1
    Dear Wayland Voter, Elementary school students should learn soon which school they ll attend in the fall. Also in this newsletter: School technology meets
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2008
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      Dear Wayland Voter,

      Elementary school students should learn soon which school they'll attend in the fall.

      Also in this newsletter: School technology meets only minimum standards, and the Town
      Center developers may face further scrutiny on environmental concerns.

      REDISTRICTING


      The School Committee has adopted Superintendent Gary Burton's plan to divide children
      in grades 1 through 5 between Claypit Hill and Happy Hollow schools.

      The plan abolishes the Loker district and assigns all kindergarten students to Loker,
      which will be partly closed as a money-saving measure. Burton told the Committee at an
      April 28 meeting that letters are being prepared to inform parents about specific school
      assignments.

      Woodridge children, who live near Happy Hollow, will be bused to Claypit Hill, while those
      living in Daymon Farms and west of School Street will attend Happy Hollow. Several
      participants in the meeting noticed an apparent disparity in average assessed value of
      homes in the two districts. Responding to a question from the public, Chair Barb Fletcher
      said that the PTO's were already working together to ensure equal programs at both
      surviving full elementary schools. Enrollment projections call for average class size to be
      the same in both schools.

      One rejected plan which otherwise met the class size criteria involved Woodridge children
      who live within the 1.5-mile "walker" radius of Happy Hollow walking to the closer
      school, and Daymon Farm kids being bused north to Claypit. Daymon Farms students will
      still need to be bused to Happy Hollow because they are beyond the 1.5 mile guideline.

      Busing costs, repeatedly raised as an issue by Loker parents arguing that Happy Hollow
      should have been designated the half school, turned out not to be a problem. The total
      amount of busing will be less than it would have been under the three full school model,
      so it will not put any extra strain on the budget, officials say.

      Based on anticipated enrollment, there will be 401 students in 19 classroom sections at
      Happy Hollow and 621 students in 29 sections at Claypit Hill. Kindergarten enrollment at
      Loker is projected at 164.

      TECHNOLOGY AUDIT

      Technology Manager Jean Tower, who has resigned to take a position elsewhere,
      presented the results of the long-awaited districtwide Technology Audit conducted by the
      Massachusetts Elementary School Principals' Association. Wayland meets minimum state
      standards, Tower said. The report points out that virtually all Wayland students and
      teachers have access to computers and the Internet at home, but when they get to school
      technology resources are scarce and restricted. Tower estimated that the schools lack $5
      million in equipment because technology has been underfunded consistently for ten
      years.

      "We can't spend a million dollars every year on technology," Tower said.

      Deficits are found in every element of the technology program, from hardware (there
      aren't even enough machines to supply each teacher with one), to software, to teacher
      training, to support. Technology specialists in the schools, for example, rather than
      spending time showing people how to use machines to enhance learning, are tied up with
      low level support like fixing printer jams.

      The audit asks questions such as "How is the education system building a shared,
      community-based vision that prepares students to learn, work, and live successfully in
      the Digital Age?". A Technology Plan developed by Tower in 2006 sets out a vision to
      accomplish this. But only a quarter of the teachers have read the plan, she said.

      One parent is quoted in the report as saying, "Wayland High is a 'liberal arts high school'
      which should be a choice for college, not forced on you in high school...Very few
      engineers, computer science, etc. come out of Wayland High for this reason. We live in
      one of the most high-tech states yet have a low-tech high school."

      CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN

      The School Committee reviewed a memo from the chair of the Finance Committee
      regarding a proposed new Capital Improvement Plan, promised to the town at Town
      Meeting as part of the Fincom's argument to defeat a petitioner's article calling for a new
      Capital Facilities Planning and Coordinating Committee. The School Committee had
      numerous objections to the proposal. Burton expressed concern that the School
      Committee not cede power to the Fincom or a Fincom subcommittee. "This ties the
      School Committee's hands", said member Deb Cohen. No action was taken, and Chair
      Barb Fletcher will contact Fincom Chair Cherry Karlson to transmit the School Committee's
      objections.

      The FinCom has scheduled a public forum on May 12
      to explain its proposed new program.

      -- Tom Sciacca

      FURTHER TOWN CENTER SCRUTINY POSSIBLE

      The proposed Town Center final environmental impact report (FEIR) submitted by the
      developer in February complies with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA)
      and its implementing regulations, but further review under MEPA may be required. There
      are items that need clarification and several aspects face further hurdles and scrutiny by
      state agencies and town boards.

      The MEPA certificate was issued March 28, but as of April 28, members of the Wayland
      Planning Board had not received a copy of the certificate or any of the supporting
      documents from the town planner. Given that the Planning Board is engaged in further
      decisions regarding the project, such as site plan approval and other approvals required
      under the town's Aquifer Protection District bylaw, this lack of shared information is
      puzzling.

      The unusually lengthy and detailed MEPA certificate noted several aspects that need
      further scrutiny and explained that MEPA is "not a permitting process, and does not allow
      me to approve or deny a project," but "is a process to ensure public participation in the
      state environmental permitting process." The certificate was signed by Ian Bowles,
      secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, which includes the
      MEPA office.

      In several instances, Bowles "strongly encouraged" the applicant to make the project more
      environmentally friendly. This certificate was accompanied by even more detailed
      concerns from several state agencies. Most notably, these pertained to the status of the
      bypass road and permits required for the town's wastewater management plant.

      Further review under MEPA may be required:
      -- If the connector road is not a public road that is also "an attractive by-pass route,"
      additional traffic studies or further review under MEPA through a Notice of Project Change
      may be required.

      -- Changes to the wastewater treatment plant in accordance with 301 CMR 11.03(5).
      http://www.mass.gov/envir/mepa/thirdlevelpages/thresholds.htm

      -- "The project may require a Sewer Connection Permit from MassDEP for wastewater
      discharges, and must comply with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
      (NPDES) General permit from the U.S. EPA for stormwater discharges," the certificate
      stated. The wastewater facility's former NPDES permit has expired but an application for
      renewal was submitted prior to the expiration date.

      -- A Permit from Mass Highway is needed for access to Route 20.

      In several instances, the MEPA certificate specifies issues needing town and/or state
      approval. In addition to the usual local permits, the proponent needs to "clarify Total
      Suspended Solids removal rates and confirm treatment of one-inch of stormwater runoff
      as part of the Notice of Intent process" with the Wayland Conservation Commission.

      The project will also "require a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Wayland Historic
      District Commission, as well as a MassHighway permit for construction within the State
      highway layout," Bowles wrote. The proponent should consult with the Cultural Resources
      Section at MassHighway to assist with the MassHighway permit approval process and the
      MHC (Mass Historical Commission) "and WHDC should remain informed of any revisions to
      traffic mitigation measures as they may affect historic and archeological resources," he
      noted.

      Bowles also states that "The proponent is reminded that a final determination under
      Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) will not be made until a complete MESA
      filing is submitted for the project." Approval appears to be contingent upon providing the
      two acres of upland meadow promised in the FEIR.

      TO DO

      Regarding hazardous waste, Bowles said: "The proponent should commit to the
      preparation of a detailed soil management plan and health and safety specifications to be
      followed by contractors involved in the construction."

      This involves coordination with all the licensed site professionals (LSPs) as well as
      Wayland, DEP, and Raytheon. One of the issues involves consistency of the proposed
      development layout, stormwater BMPs (best management practices), and construction
      protocols with the AUL (Activity Use Limitation) on the site. Raytheon imposed the AUL
      and its LSP is the gatekeeper for what activities will and will not be allowed on the AUL
      portion of the property.

      In the Notice of Intent process with ConCom, the proponent must demonstrate that flood
      storage can be provided in accordance with the applicable Mass DEP guidelines and
      standards.

      The location of the proposed 9,900 gallon per day onsite septic system is contingent upon
      final soil testing as part of the local site plan permitting process and based on
      assessments by Raytheon and its consultants, the project engineers, and the permitting
      agencies, including the Wayland Board of Health, the MEPA certificate explained.

      Regarding water capacity, "The proponent should verify these numbers (the maximum
      domestic water demand of 54,900 gallon per day and irrigation demand) in association
      with local approvals associated with the project," Bowles wrote.


      "STRONGLY ENCOURAGE"

      Bowles didn't mince words as he strongly encouraged the proponent, Twenty Wayland, to
      continue to pursue low impact measures incorporated into the stormwater management
      system that were described in the FEIR and to reconsider the use of porous pavement in
      low traffic or distant parking areas, as well as the possibility of depressing islands within
      parking lots to provide additional stormwater runoff treatment.

      Given the proximity to the wild and scenic Sudbury River, Bowles said: "I strongly
      encourage the proponent to continue to focus on minimizing the visual impact of the
      project from the Sudbury River and the building design is finalized."

      "I strongly encourage the proponent to investigate design and operational measures that
      can be utilized to reduce the environmental footprint of this project," Bowles said, noting
      the FEIR did not achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating
      for any of the buildings in the development.

      DEP WAS MORE DIRECT

      The comments from Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection stated "a
      number of issues remain," such as wastewater, "confusing" compensatory flood storage
      plans, and stormwater.

      "On November 19, 2007, MassDEP issued a letter to the proponent indicating that a
      MassDEP sewer connection permit will be required for this project, in accordance with 314
      CMR 7.04, since MassDEP has determined that violations would ensue from connection of
      the full flows projected for the proposed project. Upon completion of the MEPA process,
      the proponent should arrange to meet with MassDEP and WWMDC (Wayland Wastewater
      Management District Commission) to discuss the phased construction program, and the
      necessary sewer connection permit."

      Twenty Wayland, has talked about the possibility of overseeing the wastewater plant
      construction rather than the WWMDC. MassDEP states: "However, the project proponent
      should be diligent in reviewing the legal requirements for such a partnership, which may
      include the need for special legislation to support the design-build approach presented in
      the study."

      Regarding wetlands replication, MassDEP notes the same areas are identified for bordering
      vegetated wetlands and bordering land subject to flooding (BLSF), "it is unclear that the
      proposed replication would meet the Performance Standards in the wetlands regulations.
      … The information on compensatory flood storage remains confusing." In addition, the
      plans continue to show compensatory flood storage is being provided within a
      bioretention basin, despite MassDEP's prior concern about this design, the DEP comments
      indicated. Another issue is the proposed unlined bioretention basins because these should
      be sealed or the bottom should be impervious if they are in a "formerly contaminated area
      or where there is the potential for groundwater to mobilize contaminants downgradient,"
      the comments noted.

      In addition to noting the current intersection at Routes 20/126/27 was designed to "avoid
      adverse effects to historic resources" the Massachusetts Historical Commission said the
      proposed bike trail "should be carefully designed to avoid impacting the character-
      defining historic railroad-related features" and the commission should be consulted early
      in the planning stage for any project that coul0d affect the historical archaeological
      district and the historic district.

      While the Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works (EOTPW) recommended no
      further review be required based on traffic, it did mention items that "we believe could be
      addressed prior to the issuance of the Section 61 finding for the project or during the
      permitting process." A major issue is the bypass road, as noted in the letter from Secretary
      Bowles.

      The letter from EOTPW noted the conflicting status of the road in the FEIR's description
      that claimed the road is expected to be approved as a public way, but will be maintained
      by the proponent.

      After the MEPA review, EOTPW evaluates the land use and may impose conditions under
      what's known as Section 61 Finding.


      "Prior to the issuance of a Section 61 finding for the project, the proponent should provide
      EOTPW with confirmation from the Town of Wayland of the public designation of the
      roadway" through the project. The EOTPW for some time has been advocating the need for
      the road to be a "bypass" road. This appears inconsistent with revised roadway designs
      submitted to the Planning Board for the Master Special Permit that showed the interior
      main street made more narrow for traffic calming purposes.

      The EOTPW letter also emphasized the developer's commitment to work with the Metro-
      West Regional Transit Authority and the Town of Wayland "to provide public transportation
      to the site."

      The National Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP) of the Division of Fish and
      Wildlife observed that an official filing under the Mass. Endangered Species Act (MESA) is
      required, and offered preliminary comments, recommending the use of screening along
      the northern portion of the development to further protect the meadow area from
      residential development. It also urged screening along the western portion of the
      development.

      Among town boards, the Planning Board said it would have liked to see the FEIR include
      more specific language on how the project will impact Wayland's per capita water
      withdrawal rates.

      The Conservation Commission noted it has not made a formal assessment of the project
      and also said it has not been able to evaluate compliance with the 100 foot setback
      requirement from the river because of the lack of details on the FEIR submission.
      In addition, the Commission plans to evaluate the proposed drainage on the site, and
      recommends the use of pervious asphalt. The letter concludes: "There should be no
      presumption that the Commission endorses the amount of resource area alteration
      proposed with the various mitigation plans."

      The Board of Road Commissioners endorsed narrowing lanes at the Route 20 intersection
      and the shifting westward of the 126/27 portion north of the intersection in a plan
      developed after the FEIR submission. These plans are an attempt to reduce the taking of
      green space and impacting the historic area. It also noted that the town has not made a
      decision with regard to "the public versus private status of the `internal project connector
      road.'"

      -- Molly Upton

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