The HILLTOP location proposed for the new Northeast Metro Tech High school imposes several severe safety oversights that will result in school users getting hurt needlessly, on a regular basis. The proposed new Voc HILLTOP location disregards the 2016 Pre-Feasibility Study recommendations and will cause added construction and maintenance costs, in addition to undue risk of injuries, compared to the Voc option to build on the athletic fields. To quote another concerned Wakefield resident who happens to be an architect (Brian Thomson): “Vertical movement is inherently more difficult and potentially more dangerous than horizontal movement, and by locating the NEMT building on the hilltop, it is unavoidable, expensive and exposes them to serious liability. This is but one of a number of serious design and campus planning flaws and mistakes that are inherent in the present plan to build on the hilltop”.
The proposed Voc HILLTOP location will require 100 north facing stairs (10 flights) just to reach the lower-level entrance of the new 5 story building OR they can access hilltop school by 730’+ ELEVATED ramp OR they will walk up the main front access road that has no sidewalks (because it is too steep for sidewalks). These three options will negatively impact school accessibility and add to the daily risk for all building users forever.
If the Voc cannot install a sidewalk along the new north uphill entrance driveway to school because access road is to steep, what do you think is going to happen when you mix cars, bicycles, buses and pedestrians and bad weather? It is glaringly obvious that safety was not a design priority, and it will be it is just a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt, needlessly. (Note: The Wakefield Traffic Advisory Committee did suggest a sign on the front access driveway from Hemlock Road stating “NO PEDESTRIANS”).
I am disappointed that anyone thinks it is acceptable to build a $325 million school with no sidewalk along main front entrance from Hemlock Road which is steep, curving and has no shoulders. This critical oversight that should not be allowed! The steep front driveway connecting Hemlock to top of hilltop campus will have guard rails on one side and a rock fall catchment and drainage swales on the other side, that result in pedestrians and cars on same driveway.
Another real danger that should not be overlooked is the real danger to the emotional well-being of all school students and employees who will be subject to many weeks of massive blasting of bedrock while they are in school. Of course, the Voc states they will do everything safely and will be closely monitored by all parties, with an expert explosive contractor. While the HILLTOP is blasted the construction truck traffic down the access road through the current student parking lot to deliver blasted rock to be crushed behind the current school is also a safety issue hazard for students and summer visitors to Breakheart. The disruption to academic and emotional well-being of school users will be clearly jeopardized by the extensive and prolonged blasting of very hard bedrock filled hilltop within 150 yards of school.
The last danger I want to point out are the 600’+ cliffs being made around new school when they blast the top 35′ off the HILLTOP to build new school. These cliffs require 15′ rock fall catchment zones below. Why create this hazardous situation when much better and less expensive options exist?
Why build school on sub-par, functionally compromised HILLTOP location at outrageous expense (20% of school budget is for site prep) when the Voc already has had a tragic fatal pedestrian accident in 2009? Shouldn’t safety be the top design priority. We all want a new Voc, but not a new Voc with multiple significant inherent safety and accessibility issues built in that will destroy the ONLY Forest Core habitat in Wakefield.
The safety of all school users should be top priority with safety built in from the start. Please speak up and let town officials and Voc Supt. DiBarri know that the safety should be designed in from the start. You can also help build a safer and far more accessible Voc by visiting the following website www.nemtforest.org. We can build a SAFER school for less money, if we don’t build on the dangerous and less accessible HILLTOP location.