The Wakefield Metro Regional Vocational School and Building Committee is proposing a site of a new area vocational school that will endanger day and evening students. Although the football field near the current school building is of adequate size for the new school (Minuteman Tech has built a new vocational school on its football field), the school and building committee has designed a plan to not only destroy the hilltop forest across the road from the current VOKE but will endanger day and evening students.
Besides the fact that this plan is environmentally-unsound and has previously been rejected, the committee is trying again. The destruction to the environment is obvious. The blasting of the hilltop into half its size will kill native animals, create hardship for migratory birds, require the cutting of more than 2000+ trees, destroy Native American artifacts, and create a 70-foot sheer cliff from which rocks will fall. All of that is unnecessary if Wakefield takes the money that citizens in the other 11 feeder cities and towns have promised and builds a new VOKE where the feeder cities/towns anticipated.
In addition to the environmental destruction, the committee has not adequately addressed the safety of the students. The students from all 12 feeder cities/towns will be required to climb northerly-facing 100 stairs or walk a 700+ foot ramp to reach the school. During the winds, rains, and snowfalls in the fall, winter and spring, the stairs and the ramp will become hazardous. Both stairs and ramp can become very slippery and treacherous. Any temporary or permanently-disabled day or evening students will have difficulty. Under this current 2-dimensionlal plan, neither day nor evening students seem to be well-considered. Likewise, exiting the school building will be a problem especially during emergencies – much more difficult than exiting a school building built on the football field level. An evacuation plan in case of emergency needs careful planning. Is there one?
For these and other reasons, more than 5,000 citizens from the feeder cities/towns, and even those from other areas who love to walk and jog in the Breakheart Reservation, have signed a petition (nemtforest.org) in opposition to the use of this site for building the Wakefield VOKE. No one opposes building a new VOKE. The objection is not to build the VOKE on the hilltop.