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Assumption set on seeking access near Nelson Place.

Byline: Steven H. Foskett Jr.

WORCESTER -- Assumption College officials Monday night admitted they erred in attempting to go through the City Council to get an access easement through Worcester Public Schools property at Nelson Place School.

But from the college's perspective it was more of a procedural mistake than anything else, and a college official told a community meeting at Nelson Place School on Monday night that the college plans to approach the School Committee about securing the same 518-square-foot slice of land, which it said would give it access to land it owns nearby.

The easement was initially folded into a revised order of land takings and easements necessary for the construction of a new $58 million Nelson Place School that City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. gave the council last week. The order was tabled; Mayor Joseph M. Petty said the 518-square-foot easement required a School Committee vote before the council could act on it. Late last week, the city manager's office said the college had rescinded its request for the easement.

Daniel DiTullio, executive assistant for government and community relations at Assumption, said the intent in obtaining the easement was to minimize impact on the neighborhood. He said the rescinding of the college's request would have no impact on the 12,000 square feet near Romola Road that the college is giving to the city as part of the Nelson Place project.

Still, the college made its intentions clear Monday.

"We hope to have a conversation with the School Committee,'' Mr. DiTullio said.

Peter Wells, vice president for finance and administration at Assumption, said the college's master plan calls for the land it owns near Nelson Place, known as the Brooks Property or Bald Hill, to be developed into athletic fields. He cautioned, however, that there is nothing definite being developed. He also said he hoped to join with Nelson Place School to give students there access to the new athletic fields, whenever they are built.

K. Russell Adams, assistant commissioner of engineering and architectural services in the city Department of Public Works and Parks, said it seemed like a good idea to give Assumption the easement. He said the easement, across the southwest corner of the Nelson Place School property, would give the college access to the Brooks Property from its existing campus, not from nearby Romola Road or Hapgood Road.

Officials from the city's partner architectural and construction firms briefed neighbors and community members Monday night about the project to replace the aging, ailing Nelson Place School. The state school building authority has approved the school's feasibility study; the project is now in its "design development stage.''

Work will begin this summer separating the school from the construction site.

The new school will be built first, and once it opens, the old the building will be torn down. But before then, the school, the site, and abutters will be demarcated by a combination of jersey barriers and fencing.

Access roads will be built, and some site preparation will be done. The school's playground will be relocated to a temporary home in front of the current building. Some site excavation will start, and some blasting could occur over the summer and into the fall, officials said.

Abutters and others within a certain distance of the blasting sites would be notified and would have their properties examined to make sure they would not be affected.

Actual construction is slated to start in early spring 2016; officials have said the goal is to have students in the new building for classes in August 2017.

Residents Monday night had questions about notifications and the noticeability of the blasting, and continued to voice concerns and skepticism over how parking and traffic in the neighborhood would be affected. According to early designs, the school will be encircled by a driveway that should, according to project officials, be able to accommodate buses and parents coming to pick up their children.
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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Foskett, Steven H., Jr.
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Mar 31, 2015
Words:658
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