Citizen group urges school district to keep Rundlett at current site

  • Citizens aligned with the initiative Rebuild at Rundlett are urging the Concord School District to rebuild the middle school on it's current South Street site instead of buying new land on Clinton Street. Rebuild at Rundlett—Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 6/7/2022 4:39:08 PM

A group of Concord parents and community members who oppose plans to build a new Rundlett Middle School on Clinton Street are circulating a petition urging school officials to reconsider the existing location.

The group, which includes members of Concord Greenspace Coalition, are calling their effort “Rebuild at Rundlett.” They want the school district to build its new middle school on the existing South Street property instead of moving ahead with plans to purchase land at 129-139 Clinton Street, which is currently owned by CenterPoint Church. Several members of the group showed up to speak at a Concord School Board meeting Monday night.

“We have a variety of concerns related to relocating the middle school to the CenterPoint site on Clinton Street, including safety, traffic, open space and habitat, community equity and costs,” Rebuild at Rundlett member Nicole Fox told school board members at the meeting. “We do not wish to delay the middle school project and we agree with the district that the existing school is beyond its useful life and it’s in the student’s best interest to move forward. That said, we are asking the District and School Board to stand by their statements made at the public meetings recently, that a final site determination has not been made.”

The Concord Greenspace Coalition also opposes the expansion of the Langley Parkway near Concord Hospital. 

School district officials have said at past meetings they prefer the Clinton Street site over the current South Street site because Clinton Street has more space for athletic fields and parking, and the multi-year construction process could happen without having to relocate students to temporary classrooms.

Rebuild at Rundlett is urging the district not to mention any deficiencies of the 11-acre South Street site in their application to the state for school building aid due July 1, so as not to rule out the option of building there in the future.

One of the primary concerns the Rebuild at Rundlett group has cited about the Clinton Street location is “walkability,” saying that having a school in a high-traffic area could pose a safety risk.

“The characteristics of the streets in the South End are far safer for children than Clinton Street,” Fox said at the meeting. “It’s obvious that the traffic speeds are higher on Clinton Street than on South Street, which is inherently much more dangerous for vulnerable users like pedestrians and particularly children.”

The Concord Green Space Coalition has also expressed concern that developing the Clinton Street land will destroy green space supporting a north/south wildlife corridor connecting Cilley State Forest, Russell-Shea State Forest and White Farm State Forest, and the nearby Turkey River. The Green Space Coalition says the land is currently habitat for field-nesting birds, spring peepers, wood frogs and spotted salamanders.

The financial impact of the project is also a concern for the group.

“We are concerned about the cost to taxpayers,” said Meredith Cooley of the Concord Green Space Coalition told board members. “We’ve successfully rebuilt schools onsite we’ve come in under-budget and on-time, why not work off of that successful track record?”

The district announced in March that it had entered into a letter of intent to purchase a 38-acre property located at 129-139 Clinton Street, which is currently owned by CenterPoint Church. 

The viability and cost of the project still hinge on several key factors that have yet to fall in place, including a vote by the church congregation, a purchase and sale agreement with the church, a decision on whether to partne r with the Granite YMCA, and an application for state building aid.

Eileen O

Eileen O'Grady is a Report for America corps member covering education for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. O’Grady is the former managing editor of Scope magazine at Northeastern University in Boston, where she reported on social justice issues, community activism, local politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a native Vermonter and worked as a reporter covering local politics for the Shelburne News and the Citizen. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report, The Bay State Banner, and VTDigger. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in politics and French from Mount Holyoke College, where she served as news editor for the Mount Holyoke News from 2017-2018.

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