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Concord Greenspace Echoes the Voice of the Community to Rebuild the Middle School at Rundlett

As many of you know, Concord Greenspace has played an active role advocating for sustainable development of the new middle school since May 2022. In October of 2022, with the Centerpoint Church property off the table, we pivoted our campaign to focus on community discussions around the rebuild and to advocate for equitable development options. On July 10, 2023, after months of exploring potential sites for a new middle school, the Concord School District presented two locations to the School Board for discussion: the Broken Ground School site or the Rundlett Middle School site. Now, with over a year of holding community discussions, listening sessions, talking to community members and leaders, knocking on doors on the Heights, attending School Board meetings, Capital Facilities meetings, and the official public hearings, we feel that the Concord community has spoken and the overwhelming majority wants to rebuild at Rundlett.


We understand that there are two more pieces of information required to make a final decision: cost and the traffic study at Broken Ground. Barring an enormous change in the anticipated cost at the two sites and knowing that the traffic zone at Broken Ground is already a deep concern, Concord Greenspace echoes the voices of the Concord community in advocating for rebuilding the middle school at Rundlett’s current site.


Here are the factors in this decision:

  • The voice of the Concord community

  • Sustainable Development - Rebuilding at Rundlett utilizes existing city infrastructure which is more economically resilient and has less environmental impact. Building at the existing site meets 7 of the 10 Principles of Smart Growth outlined by Smart Growth America.

  • It is a walkable and bikeable location with proven traffic infrastructure.

  • If the Broken Ground site had safe accessibility from the Heights and student walkers didn’t have to cross a major highway interchange, we’d be advocating for equitable development, however, it does not. It feels performative to call the Broken Grounds site “equitable development”. Improving equitable access to our schools is an issue that we implore the School Board to address head on. In the words of a Concord resident, “Simply dropping the school on the east side does not solve the equity issues of our district.”

  • Rebuilding at Rundlett maintains student proximity to the resources on the West Side of the city: public library, Main Street business district, Concord High School, the athletic practice spaces at Memorial Field and city parks like Rollins and Martin.

  • The construction impact on students will be as minimal as other highly successful Concord School District construction projects (including the Abbott Downing/Conant Project). At the June 17, 2022 Capital Facilities meeting the District’s lead architect stated that that none of the existing Rundlett building needs to be touched during construction at the Rundlett site. Students will have normal, everyday use of the Rundlett building. Zero portable classrooms are needed - thus none of the associated costs. The plan includes appropriate setbacks to abutters. Conveniently, the current gymnasium and Activity Room are positioned to buffer any construction vibrations.

  • The majority of residents living near the Broken Ground Site demonstrably do NOT want the middle school in their neighborhood whereas those living close to the Rundlett site demonstrably DO want the middle school in their neighborhood.

As strong supporters of public input and civic engagement, Concord Greenspace was taken aback at the last Middle School work session when, in response to several members urging to increase community engagement, the Superintendent cautioned the school board that if they “take the temperature” of public sentiment on the middle school location, they would have to be “responsive to that viewpoint” (hour 1:45). The Concord School District has an unusual level of power within the State of New Hampshire in that they are not required to have this expenditure approved by anyone else, including the voters. We have placed an extraordinarily high level of trust in this school board. They have told their constituents that they care about their opinions, promising more public hearings before making a final decision.


Concord Greenspace would like to thank the School Board for all their hard work on this project and we would like to remind them that they are the elected representatives of this community, and the community has taken the time and the effort to learn the facts and communicate their opinions around the Middle School Project. With a strong voice, the community has said both that they do not want the new middle school at Broken Ground and that they instead want it in its current location. These are our neighborhoods, our children’s schools, and our taxes that will pay for this $170+ million dollar project.


Specifically, we call on the School Board to:
  1. Hold another Public Hearing without delay when the costs and traffic study becomes available.

  2. Put out a fact-based District-wide Survey Monkey on the Middle School sites (like was done many times during the Covid Pandemic) that includes teachers and publicly publish the results.

  3. Conduct a work session that focuses on community input where architects answer school board member’s questions and speak to the Rundlett site.

NEXT STEPS:

  • Email the School Board and Superintendent Murphy (see the email guide below with email addresses to cut and paste)

  • Put out your R@R yard sign.

  • Call or email your School Board member today.

Make your voice heard.


Gratefully,

The Concord Greenspace Coalition


 

EMAIL GUIDE


Cut and paste School Board members' emails:


Email Guide:

“Dear Concord School Board members and Superintendent Kathleen Murphy,

My name is _____________ and I am a resident of the Concord School District Zone __.


I strongly support the call to build the new middle school at the current Rundlett site. My reasons for this are ________ (use your own reasoning and/or select 2-3 key points from above).

  1. Hold another Public Hearing without delay when the costs and traffic study becomes available.

  2. Put out a fact-based District-wide Survey Monkey on the Middle School sites (like was done many times during the Covid Pandemic) that includes teachers and publicly publish the results.

  3. Conduct a work session that focuses on community input where architects answer school board member’s questions and speak to the Rundlett site.

We elected you to represent us and our concerns. Please do so with integrity and transparency.

Rebuild at Rundlett!


Sincerely,


Your Name”



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