Save Our Historic Arlington High School
Welcome to the website for people working to save Arlington MA's historic Arlington High School and park-like lawn.
The Committee to Save Our Historic Arlington High School is a group of citizens and concerned residents of Arlington, MA who generally agree that Arlington High should be improved, but not in such a way that the historic facade and green space in front of the facade are destroyed. Are you with us?Even if you're not sure, please take a look at our site.
What can you and I do to help? --to convince the town to build any new AHS structures behind the current facades??? Here's what you can do:
Please sign the petition here: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/166/663/454/
and pass the link around to your friends. We've found that when people learn about this project, they are very concerned.
Sign up for our updates here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/saveourhistoricahs/join
We will keep you up to date on the progress of the project .
Attend the Building Committee and Open Forum Meetings, per these dates: https://ahsbuilding.org/calendar/
IMPORTANT DATES TO PARTICIPATE:
Every Second Tuesday Building Committee
AHS Building Committee - where important decisions on the school are taken by the BC. Come to hear what they discuss - and in the first minutes, you may state a 2 minute opinion.
Come to the biweekly BC public meeting to voice your opinion on the current state of the project and to observe the BC's work. Public Comments are at 6pm sharp!
Upcoming meetings where you can share your thoughts are: https://ahsbuilding.org/calendar/
Visit us on Facebook (By visiting, sharing the page with your FB friends, subscribing we can get the word out together.)
See our posts below on the past recent BC meetings and open forums, and supporting information
On Tuesday June 11, Arlington residents vote on the Arlington High School's tear-down: whether we should destroy our remaining open spaces, historic architecture, mess up traffic in the center and saddle ourselves with paying more than $800 per household for 30 years - or whether we should look for a better plan in the future.
VOTING "NO" IS PRO-ARLINGTON, PRO-SCHOOL DEPT, PRO-CHILDREN
Voting "NO" on June 11 to the AHS question will avoid being forced into a bad plan and give us the potential to find a better solution with more reimbursement and likely lower cost in money, architectural and open space loss - and better traffic.
Voting "NO" on the current, expensive tear-down plan recognizes that AHS's students and teachers are already among the best in the state and country. By saying no, we can vote for a better Arlington: for a better plan that keeps open spaces, that preserves morning and afternoon traffic, that doesn't cost our neighbors an outrageous amount of money.
I was part of the "Save Our Historic AHS" group. We worked continuously to try to get the 17 member AHS Building Committee (BC) to improve the plan they sneaked by Arlington last summer in about 15 days during June-July. However, with their well-organized machine, they spread fear that the only way to improve AHS was through their expensive and poorly implemented plan and fear that somehow this is the only chance to get some of the cost paid for by the government.
ACCREDITATION AND AHS EXCELLENCE
The BC pushed that AHS might somehow cease to be great, or even accredited. You should know that AHS is fully accredited and is in the top high schools in the state. The BC first discussed that a reconstruction in the existing footprint would actually be better for educational outcomes - and similar priced to the terrible "Option 3a" that they chose and locked us into. They never seriously looked into renovation after they discovered the collective cost of renovation of the two historic buildings would be only about $50M. They determined then that their new educational goals could only be met by Option 3a. They held various public forums after they'd locked this down.
The BC pushed that the MSBA body that reimburses us might not reimburse us for a future, better plan. In fact, by saying no now, a better plan could get a higher reimbursement rate from MSBA, since it would remove the many non-educational offices that detract from the new project being 100% high school. The Executive Director of the MSBA even told me himself that he laments the loss of historic high schools around the Commonwealth - including in his own town. It turns out Mass. law changed in 2006 to encourage tear-downs over renovations. This is a setback for a community like ours with heritage and architecture worth holding on to. If we wait, organizations are working to try to put back the pre-2006 incentives to renovate. The MSBA money could be there and be provided at a greater rate if we wait.
NO COMPROMISE, NO CHOICE
Although previously, large numbers of survey respondents told the BC we wanted a historical/open space preserving project, they didn't choose that in June. Once the tear-down plan was chosen, we voters and taxpayers got to vote on only small details of the BC's project: to tell them only "make this one look like the one we have already." They accepted that voice but then applied" value-engineering" so that the new school will look like the love-child of Ottoson and Thompson schools...
SOHAHS was made up not just of concerned parents, AHS grads and taxpayers - but of respected architects, sustainability experts and former Arlington school committee leaders. We tried hard to improve and inform the BC to make the terrible project better. The Architects among us pointed to much better and more affordable directions the project could go. The sustainability experts among us noted the building will fall far short of the BC's claims that it will be very 'green'. It will likely only be built to the 2nd lowest environmental building standards.
The BC may have listened, but they made no accommodation or compromise. They hope you'll fear that you must support them. A better project would still capture MSBA funding from the state of MA but it would keep the historic facades and receive up to 30% historic preservation reimbursement, it would move non-education use out of AHS to get a higher MSBA funds rate.
THE COST OF YES
The cost of voting YES is a terribly high one, even if you can pay the $800+. We should acknowledge that AHS's outcomes are good now; we should do needed maintenance and plan for a cheaper renovation project soon. If we barge ahead with the tear-down project now, we lose forever the last large open space, our town green, on AHS's lawn. We will be giving up much sports practice space, losing the iconic "state house" facade and the even more historic Fusco building next to it. We will be committing ourselves to the school retreating from Mass Ave - all traffic to go to the rear side - and a traffic nightmare on Mill and Grove streets.
We will be willfully urbanizing and adding to the generic-building stock of our town and New England. We are the stewards for the future of our history. We worsen and cheapen our community by incredible expense on a poorly thought out BC tear-down project if we go ahead. Please vote "NO" to give us better options for AHS, for its students and faculty and for the town than the BC's Option 3a tear-down.
Click "See More" (in blue just above the image) below to read more (no need to be a Facebook user)
EXTERIOR OPTION 3a OFFICIAL AHS REBUILD SURVEY NOW CLOSED:
4 day (fill in before Sun Dec 2, 8pm) survey of exterior plans A, B and C is available.
- All of the lettered exterior plans destroy the existing lawn, the historic buildings/facades and will worsen traffic on Mill and Grove Streets.
- Plan A "The Memory of Columns and Bricks" has an isolated construction of columns stuck at 60' feet from Mass Ave in front of a massive glass entry. The remaining two designs, "Best Buy" and the "Eyebrow" are departures from what Arlington has in the center. All destroy the open space at AHS, worsen traffic, take 2 soccer fields and 2 basketball courts.
- When answering the questions relating to A,B and C, be aware that you can choose "disagree" and "extremely disagree" to register your disagreement with this plan's current direction.
- We urge you to use the question "If you have any feedback, not already in this form, please give it here" , to say "I cannot support any of these options because of the loss of open space and historic building facades." and, if you reside in Arlington, please list that you are an Arlington resident, since this is an open-ended text answer that might be tabulated separately from other questions.
Click here for the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ahs5
Here are the actual questions (from the hand-out paper edition):
CURRENT PLAN IS NO COMPROMISE - ALL TEARDOWN, URBANIZATION AND $$$.
IS THIS WHAT WE WANT AS A TOWN?
Town BC says they've "compromised" and want you to let them go ahead - they haven't! Here's why:
Here are examples of what the BC says is listening to the town's concerns.
Regarding loss of the historic Collomb building:
The BC and the architect HMFH seem to think 'any old columns, any place' will do. At considerable expense they propose adding these strange columns to THE SIDE of AHS (facing Stop and Shop)
Ya want columns?
Here are some columns for you -- on the SIDE (!) of the building where the loading bay currently is and an "amphitheater" of concrete and shadows between the hulks of the new buildings (North side) is planned
Regarding loss of the memorial lawn, trees, open space on Mass Ave:
The BC proposes to limit the lawn loss to 2/3rds of the Lawn. In late summer they had shown new designs where they brought the windowless auditorium structures to a car-length from Mass Ave. They have pulled back to their original tear-down and lawn-destruction plans. The lawn, space, open skies, trees will be just as destroyed
Your voice is needed at the Weds Nov 28 Town Hall Open Forum at 7pm.
Destroying the Memorial Lawn, Trees and Open Space of Arlington's People.
BC 'compromises' the large left side structure will now be a continuous line at 80 feet from Mass Ave. It is 255 feet today. 2/3rds existing open space gone!
This large bit may simply have been added so it could be withdrawn as 'compromise'.
AHS Listed as one of the most endangered historic resources
Preservation Massachusetts has chosen to list AHS on its 2018 list of most endangered historical resources in the state, due to the threat of teardown and the land loss. Click here to read the press release.
AHS LAWN FLAGS REMEMBER OUR SOLDiERS AND WAR DEAD
The majestic and park-like lawn will be lost if the building, lawn and drop-off loop are destroyed under the current tear-down and land-grab plan. Shouldn't this scarce open space be protected from increasing sprawl and urbanization?
Click "SEE MORE" below to read about the recent Oct 2 BC meeting; no need to join Facebook...
The Output of the Sept 24 Meeting was this image, which wasn't well discussed at the meeting. Here below we've marked up what Arlingtonians might not have seen in it. A picture worth a thousand words...
READ coverage of the Sept 17 AHS Building Meeting from ACMI
What can I or others do?
- Sign the petition to save the lawn, open space, trees, historic facades and the traffic loop
- check for upcoming meetings to have your say. Without your voice, the project will go ahead
- Join our email list to get updates on efforts to save AHS
- Contact Us by email