WILMINGTON, MA – Should the Swain School site (located across from the Town Common, next to the Fourth of July Building) be considered as a future location for a town building, like a new Town Hall or new library?
That was the biggest question that came out of the recent forum held by the Facility Master Plan Committee.
“The development of the [Swain School] site is a concept I thought was important to put out to the community,” said Town Manager Jeff Hull.
“Conceptually, is there a strong desire to have a more civic presence on the Town Common?,” asked Hull. “It’s important for us to get some feedback to know if that philosophy is heading the right direction or if there’s no desire whatsoever.”
3 of the 4 current alternatives proposed by the Facility Master Plan Committee place either a combined Town Hall/School Administration Building or a library on the Swain School site.
Several Selectmen expressed concerns about future development in the Town Common area.
“As my personal opinion, I’m of the mind that [the Town Common] is good the way it is,” said Selectman Mike Champoux. “Frankly, I’m not jazzed about throwing another constructed building on the Swain School lot with the parking issues that goes along with that.”
Steve Cecil – the Committee’s consultant – emphasized that the parcel is deceptively large, with lots of wooded land near the Senior Center. Parking, according to Cecil, would not be an issue, even if multiple town buildings were placed on the site.
“I am opposed, at this point, to any additional structures on the Swain School area,” said Selectman Kevin Caira.
Caira would like to see the land the town purchased next to St. Dorothy’s be considered for a future town building, not the Swain School site.
Planning Director Valerie Gingrich explained the town was considering using the former St. Dorothy’s land for senior housing. Gingrich talked up the land’s Main Street location, proximity to stores, access to public transportation, and the tie-in with a potential new senior center/recreation center complex to be built nearby at the current Town Hall site.
“If we overdevelop the Swain area, my concern is the traffic patterns as it relates to Middlesex Avenue and Route 62, plus traffic potentially infiltrating the School Street and Drury Lane neighborhood,” said Selectwoman Judy O’Connell. O’Connell also expressed concern for pedestrian traffic, especially seniors with mobility issues, and how new traffic would affect the intersection change at Glen, Middlesex and Wildwood.
Cecil made assurances that traffic patterns would be looked at and measured as part of one the next steps in the planning process.
Cecil also noted that while traffic concerns are valid, centralizing town buildings can create a convenience factor for residents that must also be considered.
“Your facilities are more disperse that almost any other town we’ve worked in,” added Cecil. “Your buildings are scattered all over the place.”
Let the Committee know whether or not a town building constructed on the Swain School site, likely in the next 5-10 years. Click HERE to fill out the brief feedback form. For additional context, the committee’s presentation can be read HERE in just a few minutes.
And for even greater context, watch the public forum below, courtesy of Wilmington Community Television. (Regarding the Swain School site, Champoux speaks at 44:30, O’Connell speaks at 52:20, Caira speaks at 1:03:55, and Hull speaks at 1:12:15.)
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