Letter: New Lebanon School
To the Editor:
I do not support Option 1 which places the New Lebanon school building within Byram’s the last remaining woodland that buffers the school and neighborhood from I-95. The Option 1 building is only 125’ from the I-95 and will remove most of the trees between the school and the highway. This location is concerning since air pollution within 500’ of a major roadway is linked to childhood asthma and lower IQ scores, especially within low lying areas (such as the Option 1 building location) where diesel soot from trucks can concentrate. In other states, such as California, onsite air pollution testing of all new schools within 500’ of a highway is required. Although the architects have suggested that air pollution sampling of the site be completed soon, this has not be done to date. As a result of the close proximity to I-95, the new school building will likely not be able to open it’s eastern facing windows due to highway air pollution (and noise).
The Option 1 building also has poor access for First Responders during an emergency. Option 1 building site plan does not provide access around the entire building and two awkward bridges used to enter the building further restrict access.
While the interior of the new school may have a “wow” factor, the exterior of the building does not. As one approaches the new school site the “first impression” view across the William Street ballfield is of the building’s service area with loading docks and dumpsters, the second view from Mead Avenue would be of the low-lying building’s roof line, and the third view from the parking lot being of a building down within a 10-14’ deep depression – ugly. Easterly views from within the existing school of mature woodland trees and rock outcrops will be replaced with views of I-95 traffic jams. The other main view from is to the west of a steep slope with a large parking lot and roadways above.
The Option 1 building is proposed to be constructed within a low area that is near an inland wetland and may pose significant difficulty gaining approval by the Town’s inland wetlands agency. The placement of the new school within the site’s low area will make it difficult to comply with the Town’s drainage manual for the treatment of stormwater runoff. The engineering firm retained for the project has already expressed “concerns relative to how the wooded area drains”.
The alternative I prefer is build the school in the high location of the existing school. This could be accomplished especially if the hilltop elevations are lowered. Another option is to look at other sites within Byram.
Let’s be honest, the proposed Option 1 school building sited adjacent to I-95, is unlike to attract many, if any, students from other areas of Greenwich. The BOE Ed Specs which dictate the size of the new school building should be reevaluated before constructing an over-sized school building within a heavily congested neighborhood that is too large for the needs of the Town.