WVN #35: putting high school proposal into context
- Wayland Voters Network
September 14, 2004
Dear Wayland Voter:
Last night Town officials revealed their plan to schedule a Special
Election in late November for voters to decide whether or not to
approve $3-4 million for design fees for the proposed plan to
demolish the existing high school and build a new one. The next
issue of this newsletter will include details about that and last
night's Finance Committee discussion re. the tax impact of the high
school proposal. In this issue, we step back for a moment to put the
high school project into context.
First, a reminder: Today, Tuesday, Sept. 14, is the State Primary
Election. Voters in the Democratic primary will consider contested
races for state representative and state senator. Polls are open
SEEING THE HIGH SCHOOL IN CONTEXT
by Michael Short
As the High School Building Committee and Town officials push for an
early vote on building a new $56 million campus, another committee
wants to make big changes in the Wayland Library. Voters should
remember that these are just two of many projects in the new Master
For example, Wayland must build a new salt shed to meet environmental
concerns. Some citizens are concerned about the Route 30/27
intersection and improving other roads. Others believe that the
Town¹s biggest challenge in the next few years may be improving
wastewater and fresh water systems. There is some support for a new
community center, an aquatics center, another fire station and
initiatives involving the Raytheon property at the Town Center.
The Master Plan calls for several such projects to be started within
five years, but it mentions neither priorities nor costs.
This means that it is left to voters to decide what is most important
to do and at what cost, and that makes it vital to make responsible
choices on the earliest projects. A hasty choice could mean that
taxpayers won't be able to afford significant projects in the future.
So far, the library study committee seems to be following the pattern
of the High School Building Committee, asserting that the building
should be more than doubled in size and possibly replaced.
"You can't hang on to the past if you are concerned about the
future," committee member Eric Hollenberg told the Boston Globe,
arguing that ideally the town should demolish the neighboring house
as well as the current library and put up a new building with about
2.3 times as much space.
That house and its 4.5-acre lot, owned by Robert and Leslie Karpp,
are not for sale. Furthermore, some committee members say they doubt
that citizens would welcome the destruction of the century-old
library and a neighboring house highly regarded by many history and
architecture buffs, and those who praise the "semi-rural" character
of our town. Citizens who haven't been won over by the appearance of
the new Public Safety Building may be just as skeptical of a new
library or a new high school campus.
Town Meeting voted $40,000 to study improving the library, something
that may have seemed necessary or at least harmless to many voters.
Whether this committee will evolve similarly to the HSBC remains to
be seen. At the moment there seem to be diverse viewpoints,
including ideas on creative reconfiguration of the existing buildings
The HSBC, on the other hand, was chosen primarily by the School
Committee, which ignored many applicants and installed a heavy
representation of residents with construction expertise and children
in Wayland schools. School Committee members attend HSBC meetings
and are closely involved with the building committee.
Nobody should be surprised that the combined effort resulted in a $56
million plan that would destroy even the soundest of the existing
high school buildings. On Sept. 30, after a long delay, the
architects and builders will present what they call a "stopgap" plan
requested by citizens. The HSBC already says a cheaper alternative
cannot meet the "program" prescribed by school officials.
Unsurprisingly, the high school project has become controversial.
Will the same thing happen to the library proposals?
Thank you for reading this WVN newsletter. Please forward it to your
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Wayland Voters Network
Margo Melnicove, Chair
Michael Short, Treasurer