A School in the West End: Arguments Against

Continuing with our series on the CREC proposal to build a permanent facility for their Museum Academy Magnet School, today we cover the arguments against the project. Monday we gave an overview, Tuesday was the site visit, and yesterday were the arguments supporting the proposal. Remember, these were the main concerns as of a 2/21/2012 WECA sub-committee meeting but positions (and CREC’s proposal) may evolve over time.

Morning Traffic on Asylum at Elizabeth

Opponents to the project have raised the following concerns:

1. Reduced quality of life for adjacent homeowners and those in the vicinity.
Traffic is already bad on Asylum Avenue during both the morning and evening rush hours, and this proposal will make it worse. Not only will it add cars and buses to Asylum, but the neighborhood streets will also see increased traffic as parents and faculty cut through the West End to access to the school. Noise and lighting from the site are also issues that could impact the immediate neighbors’ quality of life.

2. Property values will decline.
Redeveloping the campus will change how the site interacts with the adjacent properties, reducing their value. The new school would be more visible since the main building will be larger. The quality of life issues from the first concern would also play into the value of the properties in the vicinity of the school.

3. City loses tax revenue by continued use by a non-profit.
With the City currently facing a budget gap of about 10%, we need to be looking at every opportunity to increase the Grand List. Getting the 10+ acres back on the tax roles would be a huge win for residents and businesses as it would help reduce the tax burden for everyone.

4. Historic buildings won’t be appropriately preserved.
Because CREC intends to use the historic buildings on the site for educational and administrative purposes, there is really no way that they can be properly preserved. The floor plans cannot be restored to reflect the original uses as homes, and complying with safety and access regulations will further inhibit an appropriate preservation.

CREC’s proposed Museum Academy Magnet School facility will have serious negative consequences for the West End and the City. Property owners will have quality of life issues to contend with, the proposal impacts home values and tax revenue, and the historic buildings will not be properly preserved. Better uses for the site are possible, and we should hold out for one of them.

Join us tomorrow for our thoughts, analysis and conclusions based on the information currently available.

One thought on “A School in the West End: Arguments Against

  1. I don’t think the preservation concerns are very well founded. The odds of these resources being returned to their former utility as single family homes are slim-to-none. As any rehabilitation will likely look to take advantage of the lucrative historic rehabilitation tax credits any adaptive reuse would be required to comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation. This would necessitate preserving a substantial amount of the surviving interior and exterior historical fabric, as well as preserving the overall single-family character of these buildings, even if single-family use is not their applied utility.

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