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Comment Letter on the Arlington High School Building Project

Comment Letter on the Arlington High School Building Project

February 4, 2020

Jeff Thielman
Chair, Arlington High School Building Committee
Arlington, MA

Dear Mr. Thielman and Arlington High School Building Committee Members:

In the most recent AHS Building Project Bulletin – February 2020, WalkBoston learned that several key site features designed to promote safer walking and biking to school have been removed from the project scope to reduce project costs. These features include:

• Elimination of the Minuteman Bikeway connector ramp
• Elimination of the east staircase and ramp connecting Massachusetts Avenue to the
athletic fields, and
• Reduction of site plantings and benches.

While we understand the need to cut costs, these specific project elements would provide students, staff, Minuteman Bikeway users, and visitors with safer, more direct connections to the new school. The site plantings and benches would enhance the overall built environment, providing needed shade and resting places for people walking. There are already so many reasons why people choose less healthy, less climate resilient means to travel to and from school. Inconvenient connections and unsafe crossings should not be among them.

Site elements often fall victim to value engineering activities because they can be perceived as extra or bonus features. However, the experience of getting to the new Arlington High School Building is as important as the educational spaces contained within it. We ask that you reconsider your decision to remove these key site elements from the Building Project, or at the very least, find alternate funding sources to ensure that they will be built.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback.

Sincerely,

Stacey Beuttell, AICP
Executive Director

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