Friday, November 26, 2004
Benfield Land planning gears up
Last week the planning process for the Benfield Land went into high gear, with a meeting on Tuesday night followed by a site walk on Saturday morning.
"To come up with the best idea, you need a lot of ideas," said John Winslow, the architectural consultant chosen to develop a plan for the site. Accordingly, on Tuesday night, he presented 13 options to members of the Task Force, Fire Chief Dave Flannery, Conservation Commission Administrator Sylvia Willard, and several abutters and asked the group to provide direction as to which plans were most appealing.
Playing field site still undecided
While the plans showed many options for housing design, playing field, parking and roads, the location of the playing field is the biggest issue needing resolution at this stage. "It's the tail that's wagging the dog," said Winslow. "We really need to know where it will be located before we can refine the designs." After an hour-long review on Tuesday night, the Task Force decided to walk the site on Saturday, focusing primarily on the possible locations for the playing field.
On Saturday morning, Eugenia Harrison, Ellen Huber, Karen Rigg, Sarah and David Hart and Tarik Samman joined Task Force members John Ballantine, Alan Lehotsky, Ray Kubacki, Alan Deary, and Russ Dion for a walk from the field through the wetlands, and into the woodlands, defining the site for the housing and possibly for the playing field as well.
"Based on my understanding at the March meeting, I thought we were going to locate the playing field next to South Street, not in the woods," said Fifty Acre Way abutter Samman. The Harts seconded that opinion.
Ballantine noted that the "default plan" presented at the March Special Town Meeting was to locate the field next to the road, but that the Task Force was formed to review all options and come up with one recommendation. "At the Community Planning sessions on September 18 and October 3, many people were opposed to putting the field next to the road so we are exploring other options. We are really at the beginning of this process. Our charter is to come up with a recommendation for the public meeting in January where we will offer a detailed plan with the pros and cons of each locationabutters' views, development costs, and overall aesthetics."
In addition to the architectural plans, other issues were covered at the Tuesday meeting.
· Traffic study authorized. Russ Dion reported that a traffic consultant would electronically measure the traffic on South Street and Concord Street for a 48-hour period and a manual count would be added for peak morning and evening traffic during the week. The Task Force suggested that a Saturday study be added since that would be significant for the playing field. The traffic consultant will collect the data, project anticipated use post-build, include observations about sight lines, suggest solutions such as signage, striping, widening, and estimate the cost of the solutions. The traffic study, capped at $7,400, was authorized by the Task Force.
· Funding proposal considered. The scope of a proposal presented by Toby Kramer of Riverside Consulting is still under review but will include: identification of available funding programs, assistance in determining/meeting the eligibility requirements for the funding, analysis of the financial feasibility of the housing mix such as rent versus own, 1 or 2 bedroom units, and pro forma financials for the project using income and cost estimates. Subject to a more detailed proposal, this service, capped at $5,000, was authorized by the Task Force.
· Indian stones discovered. Tim Fohl brought in a map illustrating the locations of stone piles that Concord Museum historians and Narragansett tribal representatives believed were significant. Ray Kubacki will work with Fohl to reach an agreement with tribal leaders that is sensitive to the stones and will allow work to proceed. The stones did not appear to be located in areas considered for development.
· Fire safety okayed. Fire Chief Dave Flannery said that all the plans presented by the architect allowed sufficient access by the fire department. No further discussion is needed unless there is a major change in road design.
· Reimbursement.The town will submit a $40,000 funding proposal to Massachusetts Housing and Community Development for reimbursement of consultant services:
Architectural Contract: $18,000
Housing Consultant: $5,000
Traffic Consultant: $7,400
Cost Estimate, Engineering, other:
The Task Force was also planning to meet on Tuesday night, November 23, to provide direction to Winslow so that he can refine the 13 options down to two or three to be presented in December for detailed consideration. A public meeting is planned for mid-January.
Lynne Smith is a guest contributor studying land conservation and affordable housing issues in the northwest suburbs. She resides in Lincoln.
© 2004 The