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Greenwood Resident Says Condo Project is Too Much

Resident Ellie Miller says the proposed project's density would ruin the neighborhood's character.

 

Open Letter to the Public Officials of Swampscott,

Ours is a seaside neighborhood. My house, the oldest house on the street, was built by Mr. Phillips, who donated the land on which the school sits. Slowly the neighborhood of wood shingle or clapboard houses were built on our hill, all in harmony with the school, and with each other. The iconic school and cupola became, and still is, the landmark and beacon to those entering Swampscott, and to many in other neighborhoods in our town.

We moved to our house 31 years ago because we wanted to live in a quiet, residential, beach community. So it is with our neighbors.

The current development proposes to house more families than even currently exist in the Greenwood Avenue neighborhood alone! The density of the development creates many problems, one of which is significant loss of privacy for us because of balconies looming over our houses, decks and gardens.

Another problem is parking. As you know, Greenwood Avenue, the highest hill in town, is narrow, steep, and winding. Some of us have no driveways and must park on the street; still there are not enough spaces to go around. People parked in the school yard in the P.M., and left for work in the A.M.when school would be in session. So, too on weekends. With this lot gone, where will current residents park? As it is, those with no driveway must apply for a permit from the Police Department for on-street parking in the winter. Then they have to scramble for spaces during a snow emergency.

Much of Greenwood Ave. has no curb for sidewalks, and we pull up high on the street’s shoulder when parking in front of our homes during the day to allow room for traffic go by. Since there are few sidewalks with curbs, pedestrians, many pushing baby carriages, face a dangerous situation because they must walk in the street.

We were told at two meetings by the developer and architect that there would be ABSOLUTELY NO IPMPACT on street parking on residents of Greenwood Avenue. We were assured that all parking for 71 Greenwood residents, as well as their visitors, would be contained under ground in a garage, and on the site.

When asked where the overflow of cars of residents of 71 Greenwood and their guests would park, Peter Kane, Chair of the responded “let hem park on the street like everyone else in Swampscott.” This, in direct contradiction to what we were told by the developer and his architect. It is no where near a solution.

Also of concern is the issue of traffic. In the past, cars for drop-off and pick-up at the school lasted for ½ hour at best, twice a day. They moved slowly as they dropped off and picked up their children. During vacation weeks through out the year and during summer vacation months, there was no school traffic at all. Recently, traffic has increased significantly; cut-through traffic from Humphrey to Forest Avenue for the middle school, and also to Paradise Road, is dense. To make the situation worse, many driving up Greenwood Avenue see the hill as a challenge to gun their motors and they speed up and over it.

We are asking you for your help, and we look to you to protect us from a project that is egregiously oversized for our neighborhood. We know a building is necessary, and we are in favor of one, but we want it to be scaled down and sympathetic in size and character to our already existing neighborhood. In so doing, many of our concerns will be eliminated. Please don’t let this project destroy the very reason we moved here.

Very Sincerely 
Ellie Miller

Reid Cassidy July 18, 2012 at 01:34 PM
The proposed building on the Greenwood Ave site would do nothing but enhance your neighborhood. You are fortunate to have a respectable builder who lives and cares about the town in which he grew up in. The fact that the town would make money from the project would be secondary to me. The neighbors should be accepting of the project. It appears many if not most are but the few who are opposed to the project make little sense. Is it better to have a vacant rat infested building or a state of the art building which will attract great neighbors on Greenwood Ave and the effect on traffic would be minimal. The talk of traffic conjestion being worse than when the school was open is utterly rediculous. We are talking approximately 80 cars which isn't enough to fill the parking lot. There had to be that many or close to that many employees in the school alone never mind the student traffic. Yes it will be there forever but the new building is designed to be neighbor friendly and to fit into the Greenwood Ave harmonious atmosphere. I would again mention to check the reputation of the builder to see what he promises will be done. I have known Tom Groom for many years and believe he will do a great job and work with the neighbors and the town to do what is best for everyone. By the way, Greenwood Ave is not the highest point in Swampscott, Drive up Burpee Rd some day! Reid Cassidy
Whisky July 18, 2012 at 01:46 PM
"The iconic school and cupola became, and still is, the landmark and beacon to those entering Swampscott, and to many in other neighborhoods in our town." Are you confusing this with Hadley?
Reid Cassidy July 18, 2012 at 01:53 PM
No, I am very aware of the school and it's history as my parents, myself and my children all attended school there.
Whisky July 18, 2012 at 01:57 PM
I was sarcastically replying to Ellie. Yes, I know you all went there, as did I. (Your brothers all know me. No, I've never been arrested.)
CN July 18, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Sorry, but BOO HOO. Town needs revenue and is currently sitting on an unused property that still has maintenance costs associated to it. Great idea! Let's sit on our hands and keep pouring money into an unused property or better yet let's make it a large parking lot for the residents! Brilliant! Time to bring more money into this town so taxes don't continue to rise. It's not like this is section 8 housing they are planning.
CN July 18, 2012 at 03:09 PM
On a related note, Ellie, that parking lot is not yours to use. If you are ducking around the parking permit fee by parking in there, I believe we should notify the SPD to start handing out tickets. If this condo gets denied, I am going to make it a point to alert the police this winter about illegal parking on Greenwood. Thank you.
Mick July 18, 2012 at 03:34 PM
To Ellie, Parking is not a divine right, if your property does not have adequate parking please do not expect the town or other property owners to give you their space. I also have lived at the bottom of the hill for over 15 years now and the fact that Greenwood had no sidewalks never once came up when my child was trying to get to school every day walking into the middle of the street because your car was parked on the side of the road in front of the houses. Perhaps the houses are to big for the lot might have something to do with your dilemma. 41 Condos on the Greenwood Ave site is a good idea, they will bring new people to the area , new tax revenue, and most importantly new fresh ideas for our community.
Uncle Leo July 18, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I think the traffic and parking concerns may be overblown. The closest comp I can think of in Swampscott are the condo's that were built across from the Fish House, on the site of the Surf Theater. There are 28 units there and though I don't live next to them, I've been driving by them since they were built 28 years ago. I don't think I am lying when I say in my 28 years of driving by them, I may have seen 2-3 cars pulling into or out of that parking lot. I will also echo what Reid Cassidy has said above. The Grooms live in and care about Swampscott. I'm sure they went to great lengths to make sure this project was the right balance between making a profit and doing what's good for the neighborhood and the town. Lastly, though inconsequential to the current debate, I will add that this location has to be one of the strangest locations for a high school. 1890's or not. The tip of the steepest hill in town, wedged onto a 2 acre site with no fields (and maybe not relevant for the 1890's, but no parking).
Connie July 18, 2012 at 06:29 PM
What we as neighbors need to realize that is if THIS project does not happen as proposed by Groom, it could turn into a more horrific nightmare.If Groom decides this is too much of a fight another developer could come in and develop this land as a 40-B project, we have NO control over what happens. The state would mandate that and the developer could build 22 units per acre. There are 2 acres there which means this property could turn into 40-50 units with no zoning requirements. These units could be either sale or rental units with an unlimited amount of parking spaces. We could end up with a building that belongs on Revere Beach. Is that what the neighbors that are suing the town want? The state is chomping at the bit for a developer to come into Swampscott to build 40-B housing, because we are at 3.2% for that type of housing. Well under the 10% required by the state. I suggest we let Groom work with the neighbors and build a project that is pleasing (or as pleasing as it can be to some people) and keep an out-of-town developer from coming in, scooping up the property cheaply and throwing up a cheaply constructed high rise 40-50 unit. Be careful what you wish for neighbors!!! Groom's project is the best option we have!
John B Goode July 19, 2012 at 01:52 AM
I thought I read this was the guy who blatently ignored his home zoning and is encroaching on the electric company's right of way / someday maybe rail trail. Maybe he'll buy you a drink occaisionally, but I'm not sure he's looking out for the neighbors interest, just the 10's of millions he can make and if the encroachment is true, why would anyone believe he'd live up to any promise once he gets his permits. This is why the courts and boards exist so people can protect their neighborhoods. ------ I have known Tom Groom for many years and believe he will do a great job and work with the neighbors and the town to do what is best for everyone.

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