Letter: Use large one-time fundings for once-in-a-lifetime opportunities

Posted 4/22/22

To the editor:

I attended in person (and spoke at) the April 5 Planning Board meeting to get a general sense of the current status of the plans for the Carmelite Monastery and the Shine Harmony …

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Letter: Use large one-time fundings for once-in-a-lifetime opportunities

Posted

To the editor:

I attended in person (and spoke at) the April 5 Planning Board meeting to get a general sense of the current status of the plans for the Carmelite Monastery and the Shine Harmony development. 

No formal presentations of any specific plans or options were made by the either the new Town Planner Teresa Crean (for Carmelite) or by a substitute attorney representing Shine Harmony’s interests. The discussions were pretty lame given the significance of these two projects for our town. Our town solicitor did state that she understood from Shine Harmony’s chief legal counsel (who did not attend this meeting) that his client would most likely be resubmitting a significantly changed master plan for the former Zion Property prior to the expiration of the current approval in July of this year. 

I had also attended virtually a recent School Facilities Masterplan Zoom meeting in which architect Larry Trim and his team presented a wealth of graphics and photos indicating their analysis of the high school and elementary schools sites plus their physical and operational assessment of the current buildings. As a retired architect and construction manager, what struck me was the lack of land area on each elementary school site where a replacement school could be built while keeping the adjacent school logistically operational and safe (like was recently done by Mr. Trim et al at our middle school).

What I told the Planning Board was that I thought the town was missing a golden opportunity to use the Carmelite site for the future replacement of the Nayatt Elementary School and to use part of the Shine Harmony site for a future replacement of the Primrose Hill Elementary School. These long term land acquisitions could be facilitated in part through the use of the one-time financial support from the State plus the upcoming release of excess funding from the completed middle school bond issue.

I do not know the proposed milestone schedule (or the official process) for either the solicitation of public/private development proposals for the Carmelite property or the actual delivery of the Shine Harmony development. I would hope that my suggested uses for these two once-in-a-lifetime opportunities can somehow be included in the public discourse going forward plus somehow be recognized as a viable option in the upcoming Financial Town Meeting and in any upcoming elections/referendums.  

Mary and I have been in town for almost 40 years now and hope for a renewed focus on getting the macro-picture right here locally – so that Barrington remains a great place to live with up-to-date school facilities for our future.

Mark Hanchar    

Barrington

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