The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 11, 2005


Two Benfield site plans differ by $135K

It may cost the lives of a few hundred trees and require judicious use of some well-placed sticks of dynamite, but after the dust settles it turns out that locating the Benfield Parcel A playing field away from South Street and next to the affordable housing site will only add about $100K to the total cost.

Two plans for site development of the Benfield Land have emerged from previous meetings of the Benfield Land Planning Task Force. One plan places an active recreation area in the existing field next to South Street and relegates the affordable housing to a wooded area overlooking conservation land and Spencer Brook. A 1,700-foot driveway connects South Street to the proposed housing, an assemblage of farm buildings — agricultural townhouses surrounding a central driveway loop. A single public water supply to support 52 bedrooms would be located in a 450-foot diameter protected land area on the eastern end of the property and a common septic system (not a water treatment plant) would probably be located under the conservation land next to the housing complex.

The second plan moves the playing field back to the housing site and preserves the front field next to South Street for aesthetic or agricultural purposes. This scheme would require more site preparation because the playing field location is sloped and wooded, but has the benefit of isolating the recreation activity away from existing abutters and South Street.

John Winslow of Winslow Design Associates submitted final affordable housing cost estimates for both Plan A (field in front, housing in back) and Plan B (both field and housing in back) on February 1. Winslow had subcontracted the cost estimation to construction cost consultants A.M. Fogarty & Associates of Hingham, Massachusetts. To the surprise of many, the two plans differed in cost by only $135,000. Construction of the 26 affordable units was identical for the two plans at $4,212,000 based on 31,200 square feet of living space at $135 per square foot. A community well at $85,766 and septic system at $402,441 were also the same. The site preparation for Plan B exceeded Plan A by almost $100,000 as might be expected with the clearing of a large wooded area and leveling of the property.

The total cost of Plan A came in at $6,625,082. Plan B was estimated at $6,760,350 and did not include any additional cost for blasting to remove ledge. Add $100K for a fire cistern. Playing field irrigation costs were also not included, but were estimated at $90K for Site A and $55K for Site B, which is located closer to the community well. Task Force member Russ Dion, who is an architect, felt that the cost estimates were conservative and somewhat high. The group agreed that the study had accomplished its purpose and met their goals for estimating site costs.

Traffic study

The traffic study report was discussed next and clearly stated that the present entrance off South Street on the southern end of the field was not permissible because of restricted sight lines. Even though the speed limit on South Street is only 30 miles per hour, a survey revealed an average speed of 39 M.P.H., which is too fast for the driveway location. Moving the driveway to the northern end of the field creates a different problem, however. The driveway would have to cross over a wetland area and require filling in over 6,000 square feet — not permissible — and to bypass the wetland would eat into the field, making the playing area too small.

Member Dan Holzman saw no reason why the sight lines should be increased to account for drivers exceeding the speed limit. "There's no law in Massachusetts that says you must increase sight lines to accommodate speeders," he said. "If that were the case, most of the driveways in town would fail to qualify!" Some believe that a means must be found to slow the traffic, but speed bumps have historically been discouraged in Carlisle. Others observed that if the playing field were located in back, the driveway could be routed through the center of the South Street field where sight lines to the north and south are adequate. All agreed that the traffic study had accomplished its purpose.

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito