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2 in support, 1 objection to AHS design to date

The following letter in support of the Arlington High School Building Committee was submitted by Greg Christiana, a parent of Arlington public school students and a Precinct 15 Town Meeting member:

ahs preferred design 62618

First off, I'd like to thank the AHS Building Committee for its tireless work moving a complex process forward, securing much-needed state funding through the MSBA process, and engaging regularly and transparently with the community.

There's a famous quote from a popular book that says:

"What is essential is invisible to the eye."

Our children's education is certainly essential, but it isn't visible to the eye like the exterior of a building.

One of the options considered by the committee involved renovating and preserving the high school's historic architecture. The additional cost of that option was a painfully long construction timeline. That option would've left children, such as my daughter, who's currently at Bishop, to undergo their entire high school years under construction in temporary and squeezed spaces.

They'd be subject to unpredictable delays from the surprises inherent in remediating an outdated structure. I'm grateful to the residents who attended the public forums and filled out the building survey. And I'm grateful to the AHS Building Committee for moving forward with an option that strikes a reasonable compromise between aesthetics for the community and the disruption to our children's education. There was a time for input, and we've already reached a reasonable compromise, and now it's time to move forward.

Last, I'd like to address the claims that we're destroying history. I'm very fond of history and the lessons it offers us. History is essential. We cannot know who we are in the present if we don't know the history that got us here. Like the Battle of Menotomy, which spearheaded independence. And independence from the rest of Cambridge when our town first incorporated as West Cambridge. And its eventual renaming to "Arlington" as a further statement of independence from our neighbor to the East.

Arlington's history is a story of independence and reinvention. This history is essential to understanding who we are as a community, and it doesn't live or die by the walls or columns of a building.

So I fully support the AHS Building Committee and its excellent work. The committee's sound decision-making have kept the Mass. School Building Authority process and state funding on track by focusing on what is essential to this project, which is to build a high school where the young minds of Arlington can flourish for generations.


This letter was published Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018.

I agree wirth design choice

The following letter supporting the design choice for Arlington High School was submitted by Kate Leary, an East Arlington resident:

I write in support of the Arlington High School Building Committee’s design choice. The committee engaged with the community and considered public input, modifying the chosen concept in response to concerns about community access. Ultimately, they placed students and learning at the center of their decision-making, and that’s as it should be.

I can understand why some residents preferred the option that preserved much of the existing facade and the entire lawn. I might have, too, all things being equal. But things are far from equal. The chosen option will yield a building that is better suited to 21st-century learning at a lower cost to taxpayers. This choice also takes into account the experiences of the many students who will attend the school while it’s being rebuilt. The build time for the historical option would have been substantially longer and would have relied heavily on modular classrooms.

I know every effort will be made to minimize the effects of construction on student learning and well-being, but construction is inherently disruptive. My children attend Hardy Elementary School, which is in the midst of a much-needed building project. The site is being managed with incredible attention to student experience, but the construction is still disruptive to learning and community, and some students have more challenges in dealing with this than others. In choosing a concept with a shorter timeline and smoother logistics, the committee has shown they care about how our students experience school during the project.

I’m confident that the chosen design will produce the best building for students to learn in. It will be easy to navigate, flexible, and well equipped for current educational programs while offering many common areas — both indoors and outdoors. The exterior look of the building hasn’t yet been determined, and residents will have opportunities to give input on those design choices. Moving forward with the MSBA process will keep this project on track so our students will have an appropriate space to learn in as soon as possible.

Arlington High School is at the heart of our town. It has a legacy of serving the community, and it will continue to do so — the committee has made sure of that. It’s important to remember that the school’s primary purpose is to educate the young people of Arlington well into the future. I thank the committee for staying true to that vision.


This letter was published Monday, Sept. 17, 2018.

Goodbye to AHS: What demolition means to me

The following letter to the editor was written by Bob Radochia of Arlington:

ahs green 300 8718Along with many alumni, I feel saddened to hear about the plan to totally demolish our AHS buildings. The sadness becomes outrage upon hearing that the George H. Lowe Jr. Memorial Auditorium building is included in the demolition plan.

This building has been the featured image in every AHS yearbook for the past 80 years. It symbolizes the greatness of all the stories and achievements that originated behind the walls of this school and made us proud to have gone to AHS. We have been fortunate to have had this stately structure representing our high school and our town.

Retaining this building should have been a requirement in the RFP early on. Many architects and planners would have loved to have displayed their talents for making this building the cornerstone of a beautiful and functioning new high school that future classes can be proud of. It is not clear to me how many members, if any, of the AHS Building and the School Committee actually graduated from AHS; this might help to explain the callous disregard for the past.

Residents who use the Senior Center question why the Senior Center -- which is older than all the high school buildings and also suffers from the same structural and exterior deficiencies, additional plant and accessibility issues, and overcrowding as the high school -- is acceptable for rehab and repair rather than a total demolition.

Like many past decisions, the town has made and later regretted, I hope we don’t look back in 20 years and ask, “How did we let them destroy such a beautiful landmark?”


This letter was published Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018.

Town of Arlington to LGBTQIA+ students: You belong
 

Comments

Guest - Chris Mungenast on Friday, 14 September 2018 09:07
Great letter!

This is a great letter, Bob. I didn’t know until recently that the Collomb building (pictured) was originally the auditorium! It would still make a great entrance hub and library. I read the existing conditions report and didn’t see anything that suggested the Collumb or the Fusco buildings should be demolished. More study needs to be done.
Thanks,
Chris Mungenast

This is a great letter, Bob. I didn’t know until recently that the Collomb building (pictured) was originally the auditorium! It would still make a great entrance hub and library. I read the existing conditions report and didn’t see anything that suggested the Collumb or the Fusco buildings should be demolished. More study needs to be done. Thanks, Chris Mungenast
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