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Neighborhood Raises Traffic Concerns on McAuliffe School's Proposed New Campus

The regional public charter school will go before the Framingham Planning Board on Thursday, Jan. 23, to begin the approval process for its new campus.

Next Thursday, the Christa McAuliffe Regional Public Charter School will go before the Framingham Planning Board with its plan to move to an office park at 135-139 Newbury St., across town. Credit: Susan Petroni
Next Thursday, the Christa McAuliffe Regional Public Charter School will go before the Framingham Planning Board with its plan to move to an office park at 135-139 Newbury St., across town. Credit: Susan Petroni
Posted by Susan Petroni 

Next Thursday, the Christa McAuliffe Regional Public Charter School will go before the Framingham Planning Board with its plan to move to an office park at 135-139 Newbury St., across town.

The regional school, presently located in the former St. Stephen's elementary school at 25 Clinton St., purchased the property for $4.95 million in 2013, with the plan to more its 396 students to its new location in fall 2014. 

The school, which accepts students from seven communities in addition to Framingham via an annual lottery, is in its 12th year. More than two-thirds of the school's current student body is from Framingham.

Wednesday night, the public charter school held an information session with the Framingham neighborhood, where the new charter school campus is proposed.

Neighborhood residents raised speeding, traffic, sidewalk and safety concerns.

Those who spoke complained of speeding and traffic problems that have existed in the neighborhood for a decade, every since BJ's Wholesale Club moved into the neighborhood and feared the school will just add to the existing problems.

Newbury Street resident Chuck Hamel said "We can't get cops to control people coming down Newbury Street now."

Another resident said she has called police for 10 years and no one has done anything to fix the speeding in the neighborhood.

Robert Michaud, a traffic consultant hired by McAuliffe, said the school would add four to eight buses to the neighborhood and between 200-250 cars via staff and parents. School leadership said many parents carpool, so not every student on a bus means an additional car.

"One more car is one more than we need," said Newbury Street resident Shari Krasnoo.

Michaud, a Framingham resident, said he understood the neighborhood's concerns but buses would enter the campus off Burr Street and a majority of parents and staff would also enter the proposed new campus off Burr Street as opposed to Newbury Street.

Jim Hanrahan, an attorney working for McAuliffe on the project, said the school's goal is not to fix existing traffic issues, but to do its best not to add problems.

State Rep. Chris Walsh and a handful of Framingham Town Meeting members, who represent that neighborhood, were in the audience for the presentation. 

Walsh told residents he would contact the police department Thursday morning to forward their traffic and speeding concerns. 

Walsh and Town Meeting members also suggested the neighborhood contact the town's Traffic and Roadway Safety Committee.

The regional public charter school will go before the Framingham Planning Board on Thursday, Jan. 23 to begin the approval process for its new campus. The goal is for students to attend the new campus in August 2014.

If approved, the campus will not be entirely comprised of students, as a couple of tenants in one of the other building in the office park asked to complete their lease. Once the lease ends, the goal is to have the entire campus just for the regional public charter school.

The campus consists of three buildings. Civil engineer David Kelly said little construction is proposed for the campus. A second driveway is planned and what he described as the only eye sore on the site, the warehouse, will be remodeled into the school's new Adventure Center. The other major outside change would be an entry tower, designed to tie into the school's curriculum on bridges.

The present buildings in the office park, said Kelly, will need to be reconfigured inside for classrooms, but on the outside only cosmetic changes, including adding canopies and awnings to protect students and adding earth tone colors are planned. 

Landscaping at the site will not be removed, instead additional bushes and trees were planned, said Kelly.

One resident said she hopes the school will pick up its leaves, from those new trees, so they do not blow into her yard.

Editor's Note: My daughter is a student at the Christa McAuliffe Regional Public Charter School.

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