The residents appealing the construction of the Wilmington High School let their concerns with the Department of Environmental Protection’s decision be known when they filed a pair of appeals last week. Now you can have a look at the list of concerns for yourself.
In the two appeals, which are posted in PDF format on this article, a group of 14 residents and one abutter list a wide variety of concerns with the high school plans.
The appeal filed by 14 residents and led by Kevin MacDonald, the concerns include:
- Installation of artificial turf. “The Applicant never adequately demonstrated that there are not practicable and substantially equivalent alternatives to the proposed installation of the artificial turf field.”
- Off-site mitigation areas. “The selected areas are taking otherwise useful and, if mitigated, un-replaceable areas as technical formalities only.”
- Activity and Use Limitation (AUL), or the area contaminated by oil. “Because surface grade within/over the ‘hot spot area’ in the AUL area will be approximately five feet lower than the current surface grade … proposed site conditions will not be in compliance with the AUL currently on record at the Registry of Deeds. This proposed change in surface grade is a significant reason why hot spot removal should be required at this public school property.”
- Stormwater Management. “In our opinion, it is not appropriate to approve the storm water management plan for this project without requiring that a Soil Management Plan, and/or in our opinion a Release Abatement Measure Plan, be attached to the request for approval.
In conclusion, MacDonald’s appeal asks the Department of Environmental Protection to take extra steps of caution before approving the school.
“Unplanned remedial activities are typically more expensive, and more prone to creating other unforeseen project complications and/or environmental impacts than planned remedial activities,” the appeal reads. “Therefore, we request that DEP include a superseding condition that work on any aspect of this project should not be permitted until the DEP Northeast Regional Office Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup has received and responded to our concerns associated with the proposed changes in site conditions within the AUL area.”
Abutter Gerald O’Reilly submitted his own appeal, which focuses on how the project will impact the quality of water that his family drinks.
“The elements that will be in the artificial turf field … will pose a threat to our lives because of the nature of the elements,” O’Reilly’s appeal reads. “Those elements will only be tested after installation when the elements are free flowing in the groundwater and surface runoff.”
According to O’Reilly, there are six homes in the Wildwood Street area that have private wells adjacent to the Ipswich River and watershed. He believes each could be impacted by the project.
“My concern is that any and all compounds used in the finished surface and foundation of the athletic complex will leach into my well and the other wells, thus endangering our health and wellbeing,” said O’Reilly. “Our well was contaminated with Methyl tert-butyl ether (MBTE); no explanation was ever given on how long we ingested the known carcinogen (the Wilmington Board of Health was silent to just how long it was in the water and from where it came from). My late wife, Anne O’Reilly, died of lung cancer.”
It is unclear how long the appeals will delay the high school project for, but if the town and appellants cannot resolve their differences, the appeals will go all the way to an adjudicatory hearing that could push the school off by about a year.
Town Manager Michael Caira remained confident that the town will prevail in the appeal, and said he does not believe the residents have a case in their appeal.
“There’s been comments apparently made that there hasn’t been enough information available to residents, and that so disingenuous,” said Caira. “People should not be hiding behind things that just aren’t true. The fact is that this has been about the most transparent process you could possibly have. There is a group of people who simply don’t want to see the project and they’ve found a way to delay it. The irony is that in the end the project they don’t want will happen, and will happen at greatly increased expense to them and other taxpayers.”