The Site - School & Fields
an existing school, playfields, a waterway & an abandoned wellfield...
LARGE, YES...BUT COMPLICATED
The Lynch School site is both the largest (almost 18 acres) and most restricted the EFPBC has ever worked with, as much of it is wooded or subject to flooding and of course there's an existing building to be abated and demolished, as well. 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 is subject to Town of Winchester Conversation Commission approval and must comply with DEP regulations. The architect/engineer has engaged with the Conservation Commission June through September in these early phases, including the submission of a preliminary Riverfront Analysis. 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. This fairly large parcel of land was identified early on as key in facilitating the New Lynch. Although already "Town" land, the MSBA requires all land used for a school project to be under the control of the School Committee, so a land transfer would be required.
CAN THE WELL FIELD BE USED?
In a word-- YES-- and it's actually is necessary to deliver the project, but there are some steps to be taken. At nearly four acres, the well field parcel is large but was not under the control of the School Committee. After a December 2022 review of initial site options, the EFPBC requested the School Committee consider a land transfer (the parcel was under control of the Select Board). In the spring, the Select Board directed town management to prepare an article for transferring this parcel of land to the district and 2022 Spring Town Meeting voted favorably to do so. Subsequent administrative filings have completed the transfer. In October, MassDEP formally approved the abandonment of the wellfield after consultation with the MWRA (which must review all such applications).
Below: 1958 site plan showing well field pump house (right) opposite Carter Street
HOW WILL IT BE USED?
The New Lynch 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.
DEVELOPED SITE PLAN - Spring 2023
This design development site plan is shown as submitted to the MSBA in April for review. The project's overall footprint is somewhat similar in size to the existing 1960 Lynch building (noted in dashed red line to the south) however at three stories, the New Lynch is considerably larger than the largely one-story Lynch today.
The New Lynch includes both a modest turf field and accessible structured play area centrally located near the main entrance, along with a separate smaller-scaled play area for the integrated preschool program. Note that the building engages with the fields side of the site with a Learning Courtyard, structured play area, recreational hardscape and entry/exit points to/from the school.