To: Newton City Council, Margaret Albright, Peter Barrer, Arthur Cohen, Mary Lou DiBella, William Eldredge, Diana Gomberg, Robert A. Franchi, Sandy Guryan, Jonathan Kantar, Andrea Kelley, Maureen Lemieux, Ellen Light, Joshua Morse, Angela Pi...
Support the approved design for Cabot School and keep the project moving forward on time and on b...
A thoughtful, balanced, well-vetted design plan for the renovation/addition of Cabot School has been developed through an open, collaborative process. This design meets the state’s educational requirements, offers new opportunities for shared community use of the school’s resources, preserves the original building structure, and limits the impact of the new addition on the abutting neighbors. The design was approved by the Cabot School Building Committee (CSBC) on April 5, 2016. We urge the Building Project Team and the Newton City Council to vote in support of this fully developed, approved schematic design and move it forward through the next phase of the approval process for its submission to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). Delays to reconsider old design options would incur significant expense but offer no substantial benefit to the community.
Why is this important?
The Cabot project has been in the Schematic Design phase of the MSBA process since August 6, 2015. The project entered this phase with the current design as the preferred design, and the project team has been working on refinements to the design for the past 8 months. The project team has sought and considered input from the school administration, parents, neighbors and organizations such as Safe Routes to School and the Newton Historical Commission throughout this time and has worked in an open and transparent manner. The Cabot School Building Committee voted unanimously, excepting one abstention, to approve the current design on April 5, 2016.
The city’s agreement to purchase the property at 23 Parkview Avenue this winter helped in this process by providing the opportunity to improve the traffic flow around the school site. It did not, in any way, offer new options for the placement of portions of the school building. All land that is currently available for siting the school structure has been available to the team throughout the design process.
While there has been a request by the Ward 2 City Councilors to explore alternative design options subsequent to the approval of the current design, these options are not new concepts. Moreover, their request stems largely from meetings with a small group of residents outside the public process focusing on the aesthetics of the design that are, by nature, subjective . Re-examining alternative design concepts now, would obstruct the open, collaborative committee process and would result in costly delays to this and other school projects in the city.
If this delay and reconsideration is permitted, a precedent would be set for similar obstructions to this project later in the process and/or to future building projects throughout Newton. Additionally, the community’s trust in the honesty and fairness of the building process would be significantly eroded.
Residents of Newton want to avoid the type of delays and cost overruns experienced in the Newton North High School project, not repeat them. This is precisely why adhering to the open, public design process and supporting the design approved by the CSBC on April 5, 2016, is so important.