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  • Writer's picturejennygraham

Jenny's take on the September 11th Buildings and Grounds Subcommittee Meeting

The Buildings and Grounds Subcommittee of the School Committee held a meeting on September 11 from 6-7 to discuss:

  • Speed bumps and solar speed signs

  • An update on Andrews/McGlynn complex

  • Discussion on all schools’ kitchen appliances

  • Potential MHS Master Plan

The first topics of speed bumps and solar speed signs are related to the high school, where Committee and community members are concerned about the speed in the driveway. John McLaughlin, Director of Buildings and Grounds, was on hand and talked about the cost of purchasing a solar speed sign that shows driver speed. The group agreed that working with Chief Buckley to try to borrow one from the MPD before the purchase was made would be smart. A sign like that costs about $3,000, based on the information given at the meeting. They also discussed temporary speed bumps and noted that issues arise when there is bad weather and they need to be removed so plowing can occur. John noted his preference for permanent bumps and they will investigate both options.

John provided an update on the Andrews/McGlynn complex. Work is underway to replace curbing that is falling apart, but it is not yet complete. There were concerns raised by the community that the Andrews has received more attention than the McGlynn. John noted that the work at the Andrews was started first because there was significant summer programming at McGlynn and they were trying to work around that to minimize traffic disruption.

John also noted that the DPW was working as fast as possible to address the completion of the project but that there are only 6 DPW staff and while they are working on this, they are not working on other projects around the city. There was some discussion about the limits of what such a small staff can do, and ideas about whether co-ops could be set up with the City for Vocational Students interested in similar work.

He also noted that paperwork has been filed for Freedom Way and Steve Miller Drive to make them through streets. Once this occurs, both will be eligible for Complete Streets funding. Complete Streets funding helps cities implement traffic calming measures and re-paving. You can see these projects in Medford at the Winthrop St. rotary, in Medford Square near River Street and Salem Street, and on High St. in front of Brooks Elementary.

The group talked about the state of the kitchen appliances across the buildings. The topic surfaced after the implementation of reusable trays at Roberts seems to have reverted back to styrofoam. The group noted that the McGlynn dishwasher is awaiting repair and the Andrews needs repair of 2 small refrigerators and 1 or more steamers. There is no dishwasher at the high school. Alicia Hunt from the City’s Office of Energy and Environment was on hand. She noted that grant funding exists to overhaul portions of our food service program with the goal of moving away from disposable goods. She has a resource working with the city to create a sustainable composting plan who could also weigh in on the kitchen issues. Retta Smith offered to work to create an inventory of what the schools have and where repairs are needed as an input to that discussion.

An interested resident presented his thoughts around the issues of our aging Medford High Complex and I loved every minute of the discussion. In truth, not all School Committee meetings are inspiring and energizing but this topic was! He outlined that as a community we need to ask ourselves some important questions about who we are and where we want to be in 10 years. He then noted that based on that vision, we then need to create a master plan NOW. This plan will help inform other options along the way. For example, we have plans to put air conditioning in the theater which may not be a good use of the money if part of the plan is for the theater to be removed or replaced in a few years. He noted that there is no plan that is perfect, which couldn’t be more true, but the group discussed 3 overarching options.

  1. Stay and renovate. This option is obviously pretty disruptive and will bump into issues where in addition to the renovation we WANT to do, we HAVE to remediate and bring things up to code. There are asbestos tiles on the floor. As long as they are sealed and in place, they do not pose a health issue. But renovation will require removal and remediation. The building also does not have sprinklers and there are more than 50 doors to address from a security standpoint.

  2. Re-Build on site. There would obviously be disruptions to this plan too, including traffic and parking. It could be done in phases but would certainly take longer.

  3. Move the high school. Wow. Whether this is where we land or not, this is the kind of big picture thinking that needs to happen to create a real master plan. He presented his ideas of turning the high school into a larger community complex with sports, art, better use and access to the Fells etc. He noted that there are potential sites around the city that will initially sound unfavorable for the high school but if done right could be really amazing.

After listening to the discussion, I shared that I think the process we used to select the new Superintendent was a critical reason that we made such a good hire, the community felt good about the process, and continues to feel good about Dr. Edouard-Vincent. That subcommittee convened interested parties from all facets of the community and they worked together toward a common goal. The group agreed that a cross-functional subcommittee was the way to start. The group noted that the expertise in-house exists to get through the initial master planning stages before expensive architects and resources have to be engaged.

Your call to action: If you want to see a master plan created for the high school complex, contact your School Committee members and express your support! There will likely be a motion on the floor at the next meeting.

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