LETTER: Former Recreation Director Suggests Using Old Hosmer Building for Temporary High School

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The following letter was originally sent to Watertown Public Schools officials:

Good Day,

How many students will be in the swing space high school while construction is going on of the new high school? How many students can the soon to be old Hosmer School hold? Portable classrooms can be placed on the Chauncey St. side of the Hosmer to handle the needed classroom and other activities needed to keep grades 9 to 12 together. I would think this arrangement would still save the town many millions of dollars.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but when the high school went from a 10th to 12th grade school in the early 1980’s to a 9th to 12th grade school was because of the unused space at the high school. Back in the 1960’s and 70’s there were many classes in excess of 400 students graduating from Watertown High School. There was even an addition made to the high school after it became a four year school. The addition had a new gym, which allowed the old gym to be turned into a library/media center.

An overhead view of Hosmer Elementary School, showing the new building in red, the old building in white, which is on the corner of Chauncey and Boylston streets.

A while back I asked about were I could get a copy of the play area that was planned for the Cunniff School. No one responded to me. This past Saturday I went into the parking area of the Cunniff School. I hope I’m wrong, but it looked like the blacktop parking area is larger than the grass field for the students to play on, have physical education classes on and recess on. The Former Cunniff School Playground also serve the northwest section of Watertown as an open space and recreational facility.

Thomas Sullivan
Former-Watertown Recreation Department Director

10 thoughts on “LETTER: Former Recreation Director Suggests Using Old Hosmer Building for Temporary High School

  1. Tom, that sounds like a great idea! I am not certain how much unused space is in the old Phillips School, but perhaps one grade level could be accommodated there with the other three at Hosmer. The temporary space at Bemis would certainly be expensive, and the need to share resources with the Middle School could be shared at the new Hosmer (cafeteria and gym). We need a new high school, that much is certain, but thinking “outside the box” like this could mean more resources could be spent on 21st century technology than on a temporary school building in a place that has upset a lot of people. Here is a building that already exists, it has sports fields next to it and could house quite a few students. It is worth considering.

  2. Interesting concept, what is the square footage of the parcels in comparison as it seems like Moxley is much bigger(also need parking and possibly waste water run off taken care of with modulars). Also given folks were concerned about MS students being with HS students, this seems like sharing with elementary students may not be better situation? Then there is the extra burden on this neighborhood, just as the Moxley neighborhood is upset about. Construction for Hosmer was started in 6/20 and if the HS was there it would have traffic and construction until about 2027(HS project would end 2026 and then the Z building would be torn down and a new green natural field space built there). So the costs saving may be the plus(and worth a look for sure) here vs Moxley but otherwise not so awesome IMO.

  3. This is an absolute ridiculous idea. You want to put high school kids next to where kindergarten kids will be attending??
    Pave over Moxley field, build the temporary high school, and be done with all of this.

  4. How about take a step back and really think about this? This is a 100 year decision. Leave the children in the current high school. Save 22 million dollars on building a modular high school. Knock down the DPW yard and take entire complex and redesign new high school and fields (do not need to use any of Whitney Hill). It’s close to 14 acres in the most prime real estate in the town. Turn the field sideways and take out road that dissects the current site. The Town should take the old Sterritt Lumber yard by eminent domain and move DPW there. Also could use old Police for DPW office.
    Then after new high school built, old high school could be knocked down. Try if possible to save the old gym. Make the rest of current high school a park. Could also move tennis courts and basketball courts to old high school site.
    Again, a 100 year decision. Current high school site is in terrible location and rebuilding there in my opinion would be another mistake.

    • Absolutely, we need to think way beyond our immediate next couple generations or we are kicking the existing needs down the road to those same children once grown. If we don’t, we will neglect the generations following over the next 50-70yrs- appearing short-sighted, possibly selfish or biased towards our own immediate student needs when we could do better. We still need a swing space for the middle school and seniors deserve a new COA. We need to plan across the next Century and right the wrong that bizarrely separates the HS from the Athletic amenities.

    • This site was considered, I don’t recall the reason it didn’t work, but it was an option (School Buildings Committee meeting, July 29th 2020 presentation has the pros/cons, options 4D & 4E).

  5. Thanks John Lawn for bringing this up. When I was on the Town council in early 2000s. I made a motion. To move DPW from Orchard St. and use that location for a new high school and fields. Sadly the motion failed 5 to 4 if I remember Mark Sideris voted with me on the motion. Could you see the high school at Orchard st. with tracks and ball fields. Like most towns do. Then we can use the 10 million the CPA are holding and use that at the high school on Columbia St. after demo and make that location open space park. I’ am sure the people on Robbins rd Columbia ,and Common would love it. Please can someone in this town bring leadership and vision on this.
    Stephen Romanelli
    Former Town Council member 1995 to 2007

  6. I appreciate all comments . I only wish they would give last names ,

    The “ Tom “ responding was Not Tom Sullivan who offered the Hosmer plan.

    Tom Sullivan was our recreation director for 36 years ,

    I think John Lawn had a good idea .
    Unfortunately- Sterritt Lumber was sold over a year ago.
    Looks like the owner is going to have a lab with a 40b

    I had looked into this – to take by eminent domain would take years in the court with a probable cost of $20 million dollars for the taking .

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