Click the image to play the video (and turn on the volume!)
And if you weren’t able to make it to Town Meeting on Saturday, and want to watch the presentations or hear the questions, you can watch it here!
Over the past 19 months, the Lincoln School project has been forged by the willingness of residents with a wide range of values, priorities, expertise, opinions, and viewpoints to come together to try to collaboratively solve an incredibly complex problem. The goal of the SBC has been to create a process and a platform for individual ideas to be heard and to give direction to its work. In June, we presented 5 viable ways to move forward, and our community made a group decision, in an unprecedented way, about which project best balanced those priorities and delivered the most value for the investment.
At the end of that Special Town Meeting, an overwhelming majority chose the project known as “L3.” The clarity of the vote was due to the fact that many people, with many ideas, were willing to passionately champion their values while demonstrating their willingness to compromise; finding a balance among multiple needs and interests.
The result is a project that is a reflection of resident values; it is “ours,” as a town, in every sense of the word.
What did it take to get to this point?
When we started this process, many challenged us to go beyond a school that is “safe, warm, and dry” and to focus on transforming the educational environment. They noted that the neighborhood model of classrooms, which supports how our educators teach (with future flexibility), would be easiest to achieve in a new, more compact building – not one with classrooms strung out along a long corridor.
Many residents focused on the opportunity to live up to the green energy goals LIncoln set for itself a decade ago, when the town voted to adopt a fossil fuel reduction standard for its public buildings. They focused our attention on “energy use intensity,” the importance of a well-insulated building, new heating & cooling technologies, and the need to generate electricity on site in order to further reduce our carbon footprint. This would be easiest to achieve with new construction.
Others drew our attention to the deep historical ties the town has to the Ballfield Road site. It was the home of the Lincoln Mohawks baseball team in the first half of the 20th century, and where the town regularly gathered in the grand stands. The Lincoln School itself was designed by two Lincoln-resident modern architects, Lawrence Anderson and Henry Hoover. They helped transform school architecture by providing ample access to natural light, connections to the outdoors, and moveable (dare we say flexible?) furniture that wasn’t bolted to the floor. Many residents saw the important connection of the current building to our town’s history, and wanted to ensure that we re-used as much of it as possible and preserved the integrity of the campus.
The Lincoln School is an important center of the community, and many emphasized its role in our recreational and civic life. They placed a high value on retaining both of our full-sized gyms and the Auditorium.
And everyone wanted to ensure that the project would provide good long-term value for the up-front cost – while being mindful of the immediate impact on the community.
As is quickly apparent, it is not easy to reconcile all of these priorities – but there was a lot of determination! As a result of the creativity of our design team and our committee, and a high level of community participation in the process, we all decided that L3 did the best job of drawing all of those interests together.
On Saturday, we will come together to test that hypothesis.
We know that people will come to the meeting looking at the project through different lenses and their own set of experiences. While we all listen to the presentations and the ensuing debate, the following questions might serve as a framework:
Each of us may answer these questions in different ways. We look forward to a thoughtful and thought-provoking conversation on Saturday.
…way back in March of 2017 when we were young, carefree, and just starting this process?
Sometimes, unless you are in the Lincoln School every day, it is easy to forget some of the basic reasons we are deciding, THIS SATURDAY, on a school project.
In March 2017, Town Meeting voted unanimously to release $750K that had been previously set aside for a school study, and to start again on developing a Lincoln School project. That vote indicated agreement that the condition of the school needed to be addressed. What do those basic infrastructure needs look like?
To see some images, click here. Also, click on the image below to see a short video taken a couple of weeks ago in our elementary Wellness (aka Physical Education) teachers’ office.
Does that mean we’re not keeping up with maintenance?
No. Each year we have voted as a town to fund a maintenance budget for the Lincoln Schools of about $75,000. The town has a creative and skilled facilities maintenance team that gets the most out of that money by finding parts for obsolete equipment on eBay, making parts, and an endless array of other inventive solutions. About six years ago, for example, they re-sealed the seams on the roof to try to eke out a few more years before a project. It is worth noting that when we were working with the MSBA, which takes a dim view of towns that purposely avoid routine care, they complimented our facilities team on what they were accomplishing through basic maintenance.
Why can’t we just do this in stages?
The cost of replacing major systems means that they must be done as a capital project because they are outside the price range of the operating budget. Each year, the Capital Planning Committee gathers all the capital requests from each town agency, and works collaboratively to prioritize and do long-range planning. When the school department approached CapCom in 2002, the magnitude of the building’s needs led everyone to agree that it would be wise to do a more comprehensive study of the buildings on campus. Since 2003, multiple town committees and six independent consultants have come to the conclusion that a single project is 1) most cost effective; and 2) least disruptive to our children’s education.
On June 9th, the Town considered a $49M option that would have addressed the building’s basic needs. In the first round of voting, almost 96% of those at Town Meeting rejected that solution and chose one of the other project concepts that went beyond repair and addressed additional needs.
Over these final few days before Saturday’s vote, we will try to condense and revisit information that has been shared over the past months. If you have questions, please write a comment or contact the SBC.
-The Outreach Team
Just for Fun: What is “Budget Falls”?
“Honoring our History, Building our Future” is not just our project’s motto, it translates into decisions we have already made (choosing L3 on June 9th) and into the decisions we are making now during the schematic design phase of the project. At the July 25th meeting, SMMA and EwingCole introduced exterior elevation renderings to the SBC. This takes the project out of the 2-dimensional phase, and launches us into 3-D. In other words, what might the building look like? As with every other aspect of the project, this is an iterative process of design refinement, but it was clear from the design team’s presentation that they understood our motto, and are using it as a guiding principle for their designs. The elevations presented focused on 3 main areas of the exterior: classroom wings; the front of the central entrance/dining commons; and the western (back) view of the commons.
Classroom Wings: When the Smith School was built in 1948, one of its ground-breaking features (see pages 126-129) was the use of canopies to shield the classrooms from the glare of the eastern exposure. Although they were made of wood and were removed several decades ago when they began to rot, this type of canopy is now a standard feature in architecture. As shown in these sketches (sloped roof is at the Smith end, flat roof is at the Brooks end), our design team is proposing a modern version that would not only restore the look of the building and control how sunlight enters the classroom (reducing the need for both artificial light and window shades), but the canopy would also be covered in photovoltaic panels to generate electricity.
Heart of the School: The new central entrance, Commons and administrative area form the “heart” of our building. The design team drew on both agricultural and modernist themes to propose an understated entrance to the school. They also showed a concept for the west side of the area. The design team is going to continue to work on the design of this important focal point and bring additional concepts to the next meeting on August 8th.
The SBC also talked about traffic circulation and pick-up/drop-off options, and will continue to review site plans at the next several meetings. Here is the entire slide presentation, and you can watch the meeting and the conversation by going to the home page and clicking on “meeting videos.”
Use Your Influence! This is a very exciting phase of the project, with many crucial decisions that must be made in just a couple of (very!) short months – come join our intrepid band of “SBC groupies” and make sure your voice is part of the decision-making! Meetings are always open to the public. If you can’t be there in person, look at the presentations or watch the meeting videos and provide us with your feedback. You can respond through the website, comment on blog posts, or contact the SBC by emailing email@example.com.
Next Meeting: Wednesday, August 8, 7:00pm, Hartwell Multipurpose room. There will be a special focus on the location of mechanical systems and photovoltaic panels – where’s all that stuff going to fit? There will also be continued discussions about floor plans, site plans, and exterior elevations. Click here for the fall schedule.
“In 1932…an anonymous Lincoln resident generously donated to the Town about 7.25 acres to be used as a Town Ball field. Costs to prepare the field and an access road were estimated at $4950, but all but $1000 of those expenses were also donated by residents.
Lincoln was a baseball town. That same year, the Lincoln Mohawks Baseball Team won their first league championship. Later, they became a semi-professional team, competing against teams from Waltham, Cambridge, and other larger communities. Smith School was being constructed next door when the Mohawks repeated as league champions from 1947 to 1951. As they played on the Town Ball field, the community came together, sharing in sport and fun. Watching the Mohawks was an indisputable Fourth of July tradition.”
– Jack MacLean, Town Historian
To read more of Jack’s history of the Lincoln Ball Field, click here.