The Site - School & Fields
an existing school, playfields, a waterway & an abandoned wellfield...
LARGE, YES...BUT COMPLICATED
The Lynch School site is almost 18 acres, some of which are wooded or subject to flooding. The site lacks adequate parking, has two separate unconnected vehicular access points with neighborhoods on each side, and has wetlands on site. Horn Pond Brook, which connects to the Aberjona River, abuts the property. The site also includes a large play field shared with the Town Recreation Department. Significant portions of the Lynch Elementary School site, which includes soccer and baseball fields, lies in the floodway and/or 100-year flood plain.
Composite Site Plan Analysis, Warner Larson Landscape Architects
REGULATORY RESTRICTIONS & LIMITATIONS
The developable areas of the site are defined by wetland and river setbacks, wellhead zones I & II protection areas and FEMA 100 & 500-year floodplain. Most of the athletic fields lie in the FEMA 100-year floodplain of the Horn Pond Brook that flows north to south along the east side of the site. A 200-foot riverfront area of Horn Pond Brook overlaps the east end of the existing building Any work in the riverfront area would be subject to Town of Winchester Conversation Commission approval and would need to comply with DEP regulations. Most of the site is within the wellhead protection Zone II and the Zone I circle overlays most of the central developable area of the site.
What about the wellhead protection zone? In 1937 a driven well field was constructed in the Horn Pond Brook Valley (see Water Department land in site plan, above). This well field was used for years to supplement Winchester's supply from the reservoir (long before MWRA partnership). In 1952 the well field was designated as a reserve source only and in 1957 during a drought, the wells were pumped dry. The pump house was burned by vandals shortly thereafter and the wellfield has been abandoned ever since. The pumphouse foundations can still be found in the woods today.
CAN THE WELL FIELD BE USED?
In a word-- YES, but there are some steps to be taken. At nearly four acres, the well field parcel is large but is not under the control of the School Committee. After a December review of initial site options, the EFPBC requested the School Committee consider a land transfer (the parcel is currently under control of the Select Board). Earlier this spring the Select Board directed town management to prepare an article for Town Meeting to transfer this parcel of land to the district.
The preferred option (N5) requires some use of the southern edge of the well field parcel. The Town has evaluated the regulatory MassDEP requirements for public water supply well decommissioning and the EFPBC has authorized some of this early work to begin. At the same time, the design team is evaluating and responding to other parcel characteristics, including grade change, a stand of mature pines, and a significant portion of the parcel already supporting the existing youth playfields. The preferred option selected by the EFPBC is seen as an exciting project that uses the well field to "tie together" the existing upper Lynch school site with the lower playfields.
1958 site plan showing well field pump house (right) opposite Carter Street