The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 1, 2010

Selectmen approve Carlisle School building project site plan

The Carlisle Board of Selectmen (BOS) approved a site plan presented by the Planning Board for the Carlisle School building project at a meeting on Tuesday, September 28. The Selectmen went through the entire document with the architect Arthur Duffy of HMFH and Carlisle’s Owner’s Project Manager Sean Fennell of Daedalus for input and consultation, before approving the document with six changes. Approval of the site plan preserves the tight project schedule,

This represented the first project to go through the revised site planning process adopted by the town last spring. By adhering to the new process, the document included comments from the Historic Commission, Conservation Commission, Board of Health, Housing Authority, Recreation Commission, Council on Aging, and the town’s library, fire, and police departments.

BOS Selectman Chair John Williams acknowledged the work that everyone had done in putting together a plan. He spoke at one point about the difficulties in governing such a “large and complex project”– further complicated as it involved considerations for both children and traffic.

Having just approved half a dozen change orders for unanticipated services ($8,500 for test borings, $6,500 for additional hazardous materials design services, $25,841 for utility back charges, $990 for review costs, and two invoices for $11,350 and $12,389 for additional rock removal), the Selectmen were very cognizant of potential additional costs. Although the project manager felt the charges were justified and well within the project’s overall contingency budget, the Selectmen discussed each before allowing for the payments.

Traffic and parking

The Selectmen had only one change to the Traffic section. The board asked the contractor to provide striping and signs to indicate two-way traffic flow in the parking lot at the first entry point at Church Street. The site plan had originally required the Department of Public Works to provide this material, but the Selectmen felt the cost of this material should fall under the project.

The Selectmen made two changes to the Parking section. First, they reserved up to 11 parking spaces on Church Street between the two existing school parking lot entrances for occasional use by visitors to the Village Court from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Selectmen felt the spaces should remain open to parents for school access due to limited parking during the construction, unless specifically required by the Village Court.

The project manager will ensure the spaces are marked off when the Village Court has made a specific request to the town administrator due to a scheduled event. Furthermore, the Selectmen will ask the Traffic and Safety Advisory Board (versus an outside consultant to save on costs) to review the traffic and parking situation after completion of the project to identify if mitigating alternatives if demand exceeds supply. The site plan includes the following mitigation possibilities:

• Long-term use of the Congregational Church lot

• Faculty/staff parking assignments to stalls at Spalding Field

• Creation of new on-site parking stalls (e.g. in a grass area behind the Corey building)

Fire department access

Under the Lighting and Signage section, the Selectmen balked at verbiage eliminating striping and painted delineation of the fire lane markings in the new plaza play space without specific identification and approval by the fire department (the only department that had not completed review of the site plan). Nonetheless, Fennell felt this request reasonable and that it would not interfere with safety measures and fire department access to the site, but would potentially impact access to the site for construction and thereby the cost if not followed. School Building Committee Chair Lee Storrs stepped up to act as an intermediary to the fire department.

A fire department request came up in the Landscaping section. In the Wilkins/Robbins courtyard described landscaping would interfere with access to a fire truck needed to maintain an antenna. The Selectmen felt there might be other ways to conduct maintenance, yet not require additional paving and tree removal but felt pressured by time constraints to make a decision. As such, the group decided to disallow changes to the landscaping here unless “necessary for public safety” as defined by the board, thereby allowing input by the fire department at a later date, but not allowing for a change without careful consideration of the issue.

Storm-water management

Finally, the Selectmen did accept the site plan’s requirement for an “independent peer review of the storm-water management plans and drainage calculations completed prior to soliciting project bids. However, the board capped this expense at $10,000. Although Fennell had never encountered such a requirement before, the majority of the Selectmen felt the situation justified prudence. Williams called “a mistake with water is a big mistake.” Selectman John Gorecki noted there had already been storm-water issues at the school. Selectman Peter Scavongelli called the peer review “insurance.” Both Selectmen William Tice and Doug Stevenson felt the expense unjustified.

Impact to the town

Under the site plan, sponsors of town-wide special events at the school campus during construction – such as Town Meetings and Old Home Day activities – must contact the owners project manager at least 30 days in advance of an event. The specific needs addressed include traffic and pedestrian flow, parking, and ways to communicate this information to participants. While employees, parents, and children at the school will understand the new access and departure points during construction, other town residents and visitors to the school may not.

After close to two hours of discussion, the board unanimously approved the site plan, and also waived the two fees associated with the review and approval process as it represents a town project. The first time out, the new site plan review process worked successfully as it finished without delaying the project schedule and with an approval. Stevenson encouraged participants to provide feedback with the goal of making rules and regulations “as smooth as possible.” ∆

© 2010 The Carlisle Mosquito