Neighbors Concerned About Proposal for New Hosmer School, Loss of Field Space

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Ai3

An option for the Hosmer School project where the new classroom area would be attached to the 1960s section of the school.

The School Building Committee debated what the new Hosmer School should look like, but for residents living near the school the more important issue is where the new building will go.

The Hosmer School will have a new classroom building, which may or may not be attached to the building with the gym, auditorium and cafeteria. The current classroom building (closest to Chauncey Street), will be torn down eventually, but not until after the school serves as the temporary home for students from Lowell and Cunniff schools while their buildings are renovated.

AnnMarie Cloonan lives Winthrop Street, across from the field next to Hosmer where the new school building is proposed to be built. She had not even heard about the plans for Hosmer until recently. Her husband Fred said he thinks the Town should have alerted neighbors about the project.

“It is surprising the Town gave no notice to neighbors about the project,” he said. “They didn’t even stick a notice in our mailbox.”

Town Council President Mark Sideris, chair of the School Building Committee, said that the School Building Committee is working on improving communication. Also a meeting with neighbors of Hosmer is being planned.

The front of the new school would be right across from Cloonan’s home, also she said she thinks the area would lose its appeal.

“I have not heard a lot of discussion about preserving the view from Mt. Auburn Street,” Cloonan said. “I think it is the most beautiful view when you drive by.”

Winthrop Street resident Maureen Foley said the road is small and narrow. She already has problems with people’s cars blocking  her driveway. She added that the new school would change the atmosphere on the street.

“It has been a joy the last 40 years to look out there, seeing children playing,” Foley said. “I am distraught that much of the field needs to be used for the (new) Hosmer School.”

Architect Scott Dunlap from Ai3 said the school will not lose field space, but it would be reapportioned to the area where the current classroom building is located.

Tom Sullivan, the former Director of Recreation, also worried about losing space on the current Hosmer Field.

“Looking at the site plan it turns the field into a U12 field. The high school uses it for soccer, lacrosse and softball,” Sullivan said. “With schools starting later, it will end later and practices will start later, and we are eliminating a full sized field. There is a movement around town for more green space, and we are hacking apart existing green space.

Locating the New School

Members of the School Building Committee looked at a number of options of how to locate the school. Some have the building separate from the 1960s building with the auditorium and gymnasium, while others have the buildings connected.

Dunlap said that if the buildings are connected, it would trigger requirements to renovate the 1960s building. This would increase the cost of the project

The plans with the separate buildings include space for school gardens and outdoor learning spaces, along with a playground. This would be useful if the old building is used as the district’s preschool center. Under this scenario the old building would get basic renovations and some areas would be reconfigured into preschool classrooms. In other scenarios, new preschool classrooms would be built in the new school.

Ai3

A rendering of what the outdoor learning space could look like at Hosmer School.

Kelly Kurlbaum, a community member and architect on the board, said she thinks the preschool decision is key to the whole project.

“It is critical a decision be made. We need to keep the deadline in mind,” Kurlbaum said.

Sideris said he does not want to hurry decisions.

“I don’t like deadlines. I don’t want to say we have to wrap this up by September,” Sideris said. “We will have multiple community meetings. This is a major project that affects the community for years.”

School Committee Vice Chair Vincent Piccirilli made a motion to have Ai3 come back at the Aug. 15 meeting with cost estimates for one of the options that would connect the new school to the old section. The Committee unanimously approved the motion.

See previous stories on the Hosmer School renovation:

Hosmer Proposed as Swing Space During School Construction Projects

Architects Cut Millions Out of Cost Estimate for Renovating Watertown’s Elementary Schools

Conceptual Designs for Renovation of Watertown’s Elementary Schools Approved

2 thoughts on “Neighbors Concerned About Proposal for New Hosmer School, Loss of Field Space

  1. Maybe if the town wasn’t so greedy years ago they shouldn’t have sold the East Junior and it could have been used now without having to put up any additional buildings or taking away field and park space.

  2. Mrs. Cloonan is right, driving past the East Junior Field is a beautiful view.
    I comment on it all the time.
    Looks better than most Golf courses, with the field so well kept
    and the historic building behind it.
    Also, it would take away from the much utilized
    playing field there!

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