With Avery School abutters in attendance, the School Building Rehabilitation Committee (SBRC) met on Monday night to update residents on the progress of the school and talk further about the mound of dirt that exists at the property.
Committee members last met on Dec. 19 and that neighbors see from their backyards. The group had tentatively agreed to vote on an option in January, but that vote will be delayed to allow for more research to be conducted.
“We’re not taking a vote yet. We need more information,” said SBRC member Mike Butler.
Butler added that he realizes it has been a mild winter and that other projects (such as the “Add-a-Lane” initiative on Rte. 128) are currently underway.
“I would love to grade now, but we need to find out more. Hopefully the weather holds up and we can come to a conclusion on a final plan before the end of February,” he said.
One option the board is looking at involves extending the existing 11,000 square yards of material behind homes down to Walnut St., while another examines removing 2,000 square yards of material and grading of the remaining pile evenly at the same length it extends now. A third option, meanwhile, would remove 4,000 square yards of the dirt and the rest would be graded.
Should members decide to relocate the dirt, they would have to decide where to move it and at what cost. Officials in attendance stated that the cost associated with moving it rests more on the hauling and handling fees than on fees related to the location it would be dumped.
Members are also looking at landscape costs for the pile, including one option that would cost $10,000, according to Butler.
Butler related that the committee would be speaking with Dedham Parks and Recreation about moving the material to one of the department’s sites for future development. Such a move would eliminate the need for Parks and Rec. to purchase common fill. The Environmental Protection Agency and other groups would first have to sign off on such a move.
Norwood resident Charles Dixon was in attendance Monday and voiced his frustration with the process thus far. Dixon stated that he was speaking on behalf of his mother in law, who resides in the Avery neighborhood.
“This is a woman who has been a good neighbor to the Town of Dedham,” Dixon said. “She keeps up her property, she’s raised children in the schools and she’s never been a liability. But I’m wondering if Dedham has been a good neighbor to her. She’s put up with a lot.”
Dixon said that his mother in law has seen her quality of life diminish thanks to construction, including the dirt pile and the removal of trees. He said it is belief that the project has taken away her privacy and he is concerned with harmful materials that might be in the dirt, including asphalt and other debris.
“There never would have been a need to look at paying for fencing or landscaping if the dirt hadn’t been piled up in the first place,” Dixon said.
Dixon closed by telling the committee that if the town makes a mess, they should clean it up, adding that erecting a fence and “planting some trees” will not fix the problem.
“If the homes of these neighbors depreciates, that would be very sad,” he said.
After a round of applause by members of the audience, Butler said that he found Dixon’s words to be a “beautiful summary” of the frustrations that many are feeling. He also cautioned that aesthetics are on the mind of the committee, but that they’re also concerned with safety and security around the property, and that a fence would help the latter issues.
“We’re trying to do right by the neighbors, but we also have to gauge everything,” Butler said. “I would have loved to have made a decision in November, but it’s a pretty significant decision and we want to get it right.”