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Greenwood Resident Says Condos Would Impact Neighborhood in Big Way

Resident Fiona Barrett considers the proposal's impacts in this letter to the editor.

 

This is a letter to the editor from Fiona Barrett

Thanks to the for providing the open forum for discussion regarding the site plan review for 71 Greenwood Avenue. This is the first meeting we have received official notification as abutters to attend and we appreciate the opportunity to share as residents directly abutting the site.

41-Unit Building:

Overall concern about the size of the proposed 41-unit construction and its impact on the immediate neighborhood. This plan is designed to add 41 new homes with 87 parking spaces into a small neighborhood that already experiences traffic & parking challenges.

When school was in session here the impact was significant but we also knew it was not permanent due to peak in/out of school times & quiet during school vacation.

Also, from an overall town perspective the current structure is an icon building, visible for many miles as you enter the town. The photos shown in the meeting did not give perspective as to how this new structure will blend/or-not into the town as everyone will have visibility to whatever happens here on the hill.

Historical Preservation:

At the last historical committee meeting there were pictures shown of the original school which I believe still exists underneath the additions that led to the current structure. If you have not seen pictures of the original structure I strongly urge you to take a look and be sure before any demolition decision is made that we are not destroying a piece of important history for the town of Swampscott including the wall which I heard is created from historic stone with special meaning for the town. See attached picture here for your reference https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=F2E615B8A0463217!1257 

Traffic Flow:

Whilst I hear a lot of data being shared about traffic studies I know from being resident here for 9 years now the current traffic, even without school activity, especially at the Greenwood Ave/King St intersection can be fast & furious at certain times, mostly commuter times and moreso in the morning as a cut-through from Humphrey Street.

In addition the proposed plan suggests moving from a oneway entrance/exit towards a two-way entrance/exit being created in the center of the front of the site. This I believe is a serious issue — the street width on Greenwood Avenue does not look wide enough to support this intended entry/exit and the current turning circle at the entrance is far greater than the proposed plan taking you into a horseshoe turn into the proposed site — this seems very dangerous. I am also concerned about how pedestrian traffic will be possible and impact on sidewalks with the wall being removed?

I urge the Planning Board to come up here in your cars and see if you think it is workable to turn into 71 Greenwood as currently proposed? This will be even more difficult with increased numbers of cars parked on the street.

Myself & neighbors already park outside our homes which I think is where the new entrance is designed to function! In addition how are we protected from such significant change to our homes by potentially having 87 cars, plus service vehicles, now shining their lights into our living rooms and potentially driving into our yards/homes if the turning circle is not sufficient to get into 71 Greenwood Ave. — especially on a snow/icy day on top of the hill here?

If this plan is approved, what recourse/protection do we have as current residents if a negative incident occurs to our property from this new development & traffic flow?

Parking:

Greenwood Ave already has dense parking from current residents, by adding 41 new families into the area with their potential visitors, and especially in winter when street parking overnight is not allowed I truly do not see how/where all the cars for this plan will be housed.

 

 

Citizen Swamp July 13, 2012 at 05:09 PM
FB, Raises some thoughtful questions, a few of which were answered in the initial Patch article. Would home Groom and their architects to come equipped with answers so this matter can move ahead. I would also think the Traffic Study committee should attend or research this matter. I think some of the One Way patterns that now exist were to ease traffic during the peak school flow times. Perhaps some of the one way streets could be made two way again. CS
Ernie Street July 13, 2012 at 05:55 PM
I actually attended the Greenwood Ave location for High School, then moved away and came back and it was a Middle School. I always liked the old building but at this point it is falling apart from neglect. Let them build, the more condos, the more tax dollars. Just use the new income for capital improvements like roads, not like football fields!
Terry Date (Editor) July 13, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Posted on behalf of Ellie Miller: The neighbors on Greenwood Avenue are NOT against a building at 71 Greenwood Ave. We are against the density. There are not even 41 units on our street. The proposed building more than doubles the density. We would like it scaled down in density and size. Another issue important to us is parking. We were told by Groom and his architect that all parking, including parking for guests, would be under or on the 71 Greenwood property. This is of major concern to us, since parking on our street is already difficult. Many of us don't have a driveway--houses were built before cars were plentiful. Those who must park in front of their houses must apply for a permit from the police in the winter, and have to scramble to find parking during a snow emergency. What was Peter Kane, our Town Planner, thinking when we he responded to our concern about overflow parking with "let them park on the street, like every one else in Swampscott does"? That is exactly what we were previously assured by the developers would NOT happen. There IS NO ROOM to park, even for residents who are already here. I have a photo, which I would be happy to submit (how do I do that?) taken on Tues. evening at 8:30 p.m., looking up the left hand side of Humphrey from Bay View, which shows cars parked in every available spot-- this, at a time when there is no beach traffic, no meetings, no movie crew. cont.
Terry Date (Editor) July 13, 2012 at 08:02 PM
cont. from Ellie I propose a solution: a scaled back version of this development would mean less density, and less density would alleviate our many, many our concerns.
AA July 15, 2012 at 06:20 AM
The Fuller Ave side of the property is much safer to build parking entrance and exit. All or at least half of the new development's traffic should be directed to Fuller ave. In addition to the traffic issue, the density pf the project will overwhelm the already very densely packed neighborhood. Those will not improve taxes for the town. The communication tower will have move, there will be a water pressure issue, drainage/ sewer cannot serve so many additional consumers. Who is going to pay for that? Also, Swampscot JUST lost Captn Jack historic building. Do we really want to look like mediocre character-less town? The old part of school Is part of Swampscot's identity. There is VERY FEW of those left! And when they are demolished - they are gone.
Ryan Adams July 15, 2012 at 08:22 AM
The original building doesn't "exist" underneath the additions. All the excess space would have to be demolished & a new approximation of the original building would have to be restore. But it's a moot point; no one's going to build it. Yes, the bricks are beautiful, but the building is falling apart and there's no private developer who's going to rebuild it. Is there going to be sadness about that? Sure. I LOVED that building going to school there -- it was so mysterious, w/hidden nooks and crannies, turning the imagination. But the choices we are left with is let it fall into an empty ruin, or be proactive and look for new opportunities for the town. Addressing traffic and parking concerns -- there's going to be very little difference in traffic. There simply aren't going to be enough cars. What existing traffic issues exist can be rectified by demanding the town put up 'no-though-way' signs. We can work together to address traffic concerns, but none of those concerns will be as bad as the old middle school's traffic. Re: Parking, 87 spaces for 41 units is going to be a surplus in parking, particularly as many of those units will be only have one person living in it. Many condo complexes only have 1 car/unit; the town standard is 1.5 cars/unit. This project goes above and beyond those standards. If there needs to be more spaces, then let's demand it, but that means less green space, which I think is a net loss for the neighborhood once its built.
Ryan Adams July 15, 2012 at 08:35 AM
"In addition to the traffic issue, the density pf the project will overwhelm the already very densely packed neighborhood." 100 years of a middle school and high school being there, with 500-800 students, says otherwise. "Those will not improve taxes for the town." More units in the town is basically a guarantee more taxes will be raised. "The communication tower will have move" 1. Says who? 2. If so, we'll deal with it. "there will be a water pressure issue" An interesting concern, but you confuse speculation for facts. We can demand answers. "drainage/ sewer cannot serve so many additional consumers" That seems much less likely. 41 units is small fry compared to size of the town re: sewer, and the building will be much smaller with more green space re: drainage. "Who is going to pay for that?" Who pays during any development? The developer. The developer should of course pay for any costs and we can demand it. "Also, Swampscot JUST lost Captn Jack historic building." That was indeed sad, but it's neither here nor there. The Middle School has been built out over and over again, so many times, that little of the original building remains. What's left is a dilapidated blight and will sit there empty for years to come if we don't allow it the course of change to come. Character is important -- which is why it's important to push for what's built to be beautiful and something that fits in with the town.
Ryan Adams July 15, 2012 at 08:49 AM
Scaling it back by 5 or 10 (or even 20) units would 1) amount to few differences in traffic, 2) make the property far less likely to be developed (after all, the demolition alone is going to cost a small fortune), 3) cost the town tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands a year -- aka the teachers who keep our schools top notch and police officers who keep our streets safe. Concerns and actual problems are very different things. Alleviating concerns means talking about them to make sure people have the facts; it doesn't mean needlessly lopping off half the units to make abutters feel a little bit better, when it won't actually amount to any real noticeable differences. We have to deal in facts, not emotional worries. Finally, your obsession with parking fails to address the fact that there will be more than 2 parking spaces per unit. That's a much larger amount than most condo projects across the commonwealth, and significantly more than Swampscott's 1.5 car/unit requirement. More than many of the houses in your neighborhood. If that's not good enough, then demand more, but bear in mind that probably means less green space... which when all is said and done, will be worse for the neighborhood for 363 days a year.
Ryan Adams July 15, 2012 at 08:54 AM
Making some of those 1 ways streets into 2 ways streets (several of which are only ever recently 1-way) would certainly help, now that there's never going to be a school there again. I'd also think the town should consider putting up some "no thru-way traffic" signs on key streets in the area if people are trying to sneak up in the area during morning commutes to bypass some of Humphrey traffic.

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