The Marion Planning Board opened a public hearing on January 4 to hold a Major Site Plan Review for Tabor Academy’s proposed Campus Center at 85 Spring Street, the site of the Hayden Library.
The 22,750 square foot academic building would replace the one-floor Hayden Library with a modern, two-floor facility that would be nowhere near as long but considerably wider, resulting in a 10-percent footprint increase. Associated parking, drainage improvements, and utilities would result in two access/egress points as opposed to the one that now exists from Spring Street.
Julie Salit, Tabor’s interim head of school, said the new campus center would accommodate day and boarding students who need to take a break in a comfortable space. Salit described a library and resources on the second floor with social and office space on the first floor earmarked toward diversity and inclusion.
“We’re reworking the spaces into what will … better suit the programs that we have up and running,” said Salit.
Bob Field of Field Engineering pointed out a new water-quality structure at the last catch basin, so all roof runoff will be treated before its release into the town’s sewer system. Field said there will be a slight increase in pervious surface area, but a recharge method will help compensate.
Planning Board Vice Chairman Andrew Daniel presided over the entire meeting, including the public hearing, while Chairman Will Saltonstall sat out under the conflict of interest rule as lead architect for the project. Saltonstall Architects was represented at the Zoom meeting by Tristan deBarros and C. Jay Wilbur.
Daniel told meeting attendees that the Planning Board has contracted SITEC Engineering & Environmental Consultants, Inc. for its own site plan review, including a stormwater management report, but that it is too early in the process for feedback.
Board members Norm Hills and Eileen Marum posed respective questions as to rainfall data source and maintenance. Marum pointed out a discrepancy in Field’s report between the number of times annually that all paved surfaces will be swept for water quality. According to Marum’s review, page 5 (1.7) of the report said twice, while Appendix B No. 10 indicated once.
Field said he would get Hills the information he wants and that the report will correct the maintenance schedule to an agreeable frequency. Field also said plans can be modified to accommodate the Marion Department of Public Works’ request that the new sewer surface not be constructed below the recharge area.
The topic that dominated the December pre-submission conference was Spring Street traffic, as board member Chris Collings had sought measures that would utilize the new construction as an opportunity to address the traffic snarls that occur at times in that area.
Field came to the January 4 public hearing with a project memo addressing the subject with acknowledgment of spikes in traffic when Tabor hosts events. Marum, who publicly thanked Field for clarifying the parking issue, and board member Joe Rocha had seen the memo that was included in their packets; Hills did not, and Collings was also in the dark, having accessed the meeting late while commuting back from Maine.
“I look at the project as an opportunity for them to address some of the long-standing traffic issues,” said Collings. “We need to take these opportunities to incorporate … for everyone [and] put less pressure on the town overall.”
Marum took the opportunity to update Collings on the progress, and Collings was pleased to hear it. Daniel said the topic would receive more thorough treatment when all members have read Field’s project memo.
Other questions from the board included the new building’s height, which is 34 feet, 11 inches maximum from street level, an inch below the 35-foot maximum allowed in Marion. When public comment was invited, Heather Burke, 68 Front Street, sought clarification, and Daniel explained that while the tower at the center of Hayden Library rivals the height of the proposed campus center, more of the new structure is designed to that height.
Noting that by the year 2030 all new construction will have to be built to a net-zero energy consumption standard, Marum asked if the campus center is a net-zero building. The answer was no, but Wilbur said Tabor is exploring solar power.
“Tabor purchases energy credits from sustainable energy factories…. Tabor committed to reducing carbon footprint as much as possible,” he said.
Hills noted the absence of a librarian’s office in the plans. Salit said Tabor’s librarians plan to use circulation desk space as their office.
Plans to relocate Tabor’s library on an interim basis are not finalized, Salit said, but the school has determined that it has space on campus to accommodate classes currently held in the Hayden Library. A space inventory is ongoing. The hearing was continued to January 19.
Town Planner Gil Hilario told the board he will get a progress report on the town’s peer review and, if necessary, postpone the board’s next meeting scheduled for January 19 at 7:00 pm.
Marion Planning Board
By Mick Colageo