Gene Raymond

Residents rail against Pickering plans

Peter Grocki argues against the Breeds Pond Reservoir site plan for a potential new Pickering Middle School.


LYNN — On Wednesday night, residents at a public forum had another chance to weigh in on potential new Pickering Middle School sites.

Project architect Gene Raymond of Raymond Design Associates, Inc. presented information about the project before a crowd that nearly filled the auditorium of the old Pickering.

The forum focused on the site near Breeds Pond Reservoir off Parkland Avenue, which has drawn heavy criticism from residents at past meetings.

One of the more contentious points discussed over the course of the evening was the possibility of private homes being removed in order to provide the new school with two points of access.

Of the potential areas being considered for a school location, only the reservoir site would require the taking of private homes by eminent domain.

Raymond said one option is to create a route across from Richardson Road, which would require the removal of two homes. The Lynnfield Street option would take one home at the end of Shoemaker Road and another at the end of Severance Street. A third option near Basse Road would not require the removal of any homes.

Raymond added that the results of an ongoing traffic study may help shed light on the best location.

“Don’t tell us this is a plan, then tell us you’re going to take someone’s home,” said Gayle Chandler of Parkland Avenue during the public commentary session. Chandler added that residents should continue to fight the development in court if necessary.   

Ellen Barr of Richardson Road voiced traffic and safety concerns. She said parking along Parkland Avenue already begins early in the morning and that it’s a common route for large trucks.

Other residents were angered by the encroachment of the development on Lynn Woods and Pine Grove Cemetery.

“The woods across the street from the cemetery is the cemetery,” said Donald Castle of Bellevue Road.

Attendee Elizabeth Sutherland, who lives on Woodside Terrace, said she was skipping school for the night to come to the forum.

“By the time I had a flier in my mail it was only a few days from when something was happening,” said Sutherland.

Former city councilor Joseph Scanlon, who also lives on Parkland Avenue, said he was at the forum to listen.

“I’ve been to all three meetings and they seem to change all the time,” said Scanlon.

The forum was the third of its kind and Project Manager Lynn Stapleton said there will be another sometime in the next several weeks to discuss the proposed McManus Field middle school site.

Stapleton said that while a formal recommendation should be forthcoming from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) on Nov. 9, there’s still another year in the development process left to go.

Lynn says ‘no’ to potential Pickering sites

The old Pickering Middle School. Item File Photo

By Leah Dearborn

LYNN — Lynn residents are not happy with the proposed sites for potential new middle schools.

The second public forum on a replacement for Pickering Middle School took place before a packed room Wednesday night in the newly-opened Marshall Middle School’s cafeteria.

Project architect Gene Raymond of Raymond Design Associates, Inc. said school overcrowding is a major reason for the need to build one, or possibly two, new schools. He said the district is projected to grow by 757 students by the year 2020.  

Potential sites at Magnolia Park, Parkland Avenue, McManus Field and Gallagher Park were discussed before a sizeable crowd that nearly filled the cafeteria.

The proposed choices drew almost unanimously negative responses from meeting attendees, especially the Parkland Avenue and Gallagher Park sites.

Residents lined up to list concerns that ranged from environmental destruction to lack of transparency in the development process to issues with traffic.

“Our area’s beautiful,” said Basse Road resident, Marie V. Muise about the Parkland Avenue site, which is near wetlands at the back of Barkland dog park. “I don’t know why they’re going to spoil the woods.”

It was a sentiment that was echoed over the course of the night, with City Councilor-at-Large Brian LaPierre speaking against Parkland and Gallagher to loud cheers from the crowd.

Instead, LaPierre supported the development of Magnolia Park.

Funeral director Brian Field of Solimine Funeral Homes said he attended the meeting to watch over concerns about Pine Grove Cemetery.

Field, who has been a funeral director for over two decades, said the cemetery will run out of space in only 10 years.

“I can’t think of anything more disrespectful than to put a big school next to a cemetery,” said meeting attendee Gail Lowe Giannetto of the Parkland Avenue site.  

Superintendent Catherine Latham said the next step in the process is to present a list of pros and cons to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) with cost estimates. The city will then wait for feedback on the suggested site choices.

Latham emphasized that site choices can also be changed in response to strong community opposition. She said the date of the next public forum for the project has yet to be set, but there will be other opportunities for residents to speak and all comments at the forum will be submitted to the MSBA.

The original version of this article incorrectly identified Susan LaMonica instead of Gail Lowe Giannetto for a quote. We apologize for the error.

Lynn committee approves garden plan

Principal Thomas Strangie presented the idea of expanding an existing food garden at Lynn English.


LYNN — Lynn English High School is growing its garden space as part of a historic tribute.  

Principal Thomas Strangie presented the idea of expanding an existing food garden at English High to the unanimous support of the Lynn School Committee on Wednesday.  

Strangie said that a garden with five beds is at the school now and students will be adding two more beds by bringing in extra soil to update and expand the growing space.

The expansion of the garden will coincide with the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton will attend at a ceremony at English High on Sept. 11 from 9-10 a.m.

A number of student-run projects will take place following the ceremony, including work on the garden.

“English is fortunate enough to be hosting this event, doing the welcoming and the Pledge of Allegiance before turning things over to Seth Moulton,” said Strangie.

In other committee business Wednesday night, it was a busy first meeting of the fall semester with members reviewing potential building sites for schools to replace Pickering Middle School.

In August, a building committee unanimously voted to support a two-school option in place of the outdated Pickering, which is being replaced to service a growing student population.

Architect Gene Raymond of Raymond Design Associates, Inc. presented site options for the committee to review and narrow down to a single choice for further schematic development.

Union Hospital, slated to close, is listed among potential new school sites. But Raymond said it is not a preferred site for a new middle school.

“We just don’t think it’s in the right place and we don’t think we can count on their timing for when, or if, they’re going to close,” said Raymond about the hospital.  

At the end of the presentation, the committee voted sites on Parkland Avenue and McManus Field as the preferred options for new school buildings.

Raymond said those sites were considered to be the most favorable from a traffic flow and curriculum development perspective.

The sites will be submitted for a review process to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).

The second public forum for information on Pickering will take place on Sept. 14 at the Marshall Middle School, said Superintendent Catherine C. Latham.

Building committee prefers two-school option

Lynn Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham talks at the new Pickering Middle School Meeting at Lynn City Hall on Tuesday. Item Photo by Owen O’Rourke

By Adam Swift

LYNN — The public can get a close-up look on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at the city’s two-school approach to replacing the aging Pickering Middle School.

The 7 p.m. meeting at the Thurgood Marshall Middle School follows up on a unanimous vote by the Pickering Middle School Building Committee Tuesday to support an option to build two new middle schools to replace Pickering. One school would house 652 students near Breed’s Pond Reservoir, while a larger school for 1,008 students would be built on McManus Field on Commercial Street.

This preferred school building option will be submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) by Sept. 29. But it’s still a long road before the shovels hit the ground at either site.

The submission will go through a review process with the MSBA voting in November on possible approval for project funding.

Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham said she is grateful for the role the MSBA played in helping finance the Marshall Middle School.

At this time, it is unclear how much of the cost of two new buildings the MSBA could pick up for the city.

While estimated costs for the schools are still in the early stages, at Tuesday’s meeting Gene Raymond of Raymond Design Costs put forward an initial price tag of $83 million for the project.

Also on the table were options for two schools with reduced square footage as well as some programming reductions, as well as a plan where two schools would share some central services, such as a gym and cafeteria, on a single site.

With the extent of a possible MSBA contribution unclear at this time, Latham said the city should move forward with the full programming at two new schools.

“We should lay it all out there and see where the chips fall,” said Latham.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said that none of the plans set forward to address the middle school needs were overly ostentatious.

“We are a land poor city and we are trying to accommodate almost 1,700 middle school students,” she said.

Adam Swift can be reached at

Lynn states case for new middle schools

Gene Raymond of Raymond Designs explains the pros and cons of each potential site.


LYNN — The city is considering building two new schools to replace Pickering Middle School.

Architect Gene Raymond of Raymond Design Associates, Lynn Stapleton, the project manager, and city officials discussed options for the new facilities with residents Wednesday night.

Construction is expected to start next spring and take more than two years to complete.

Raymond and Stapleton worked on the $67 million Thurgood Marshall Middle School project.

This is the first in a series of public forums on building options and potential school locations.

The city is working with the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which has authorized construction of a facility equipped to hold up to 1,660 students.

Stapleton said the team is considering a two-school solution, with a total capacity of 1,600 students. The plan would alleviate overcrowding at Breed Middle School and prepare the city to educate an influx of students in coming years, she said.

Breed has 1,300 students and is designed to hold about 900, Stapleton said.

The larger capacity would accommodate about 1,000 more people in the district, and take students from Breed, Raymond said.

“One thousand, six hundred students would probably make it the largest middle school in the commonwealth,” he said. “Putting that all in one neighborhood in the city is really going to stress whatever neighborhood that is.”

Raymond also said that renovating the existing Pickering building would be “impossible and a tremendous waste of the city’s efforts and money.”

The designers are considering a dozen locations citywide, each with different permitting timelines and feasibility, he said.

Sites such as Gallagher Park and Magnolia Park were among contenders. But any open space taken for the project must be replaced elsewhere in the city, he said.

Union Hospital was considered. But the site was quickly rejected because of opposition to it’s closure, and Raymond described Barry Park as a “bathtub” during a storm.

Wetlands and traffic implications were also factors for many of the sites.

The team concluded that two “least impactful” sites are McManus Park and what they call a “reservoir site” on Parkland Avenue.

Flooding in the McManus Field neighborhood is ocean flooding, rather than rainfall, Raymond said.

Ward 6 Councilor Peter Capano said regardless of where the flooding comes from, it’s a problem in the neighborhood when it rains. He suggested developers coordinate with Lynn Water & Sewer Commission to resolve the problem before construction begins.

Resident Brian Field expressed concerns that the Parkland Avenue parcel is controlled by the Cemetery Commission and will need to be used for a cemetery expansion of the Pine Grove Cemetery within the next decade.

Michael Donovan, building commissioner, said city attorneys completed research to  determine the property is city-owned.

“These two are probably the most viable options,” Raymond said. “They’re both not jammed up against neighborhoods.”

He also had a plan for getting to each of the schools to avoid nearby Wyoma Square, which is often a bottleneck. Cars traveling from the north would follow Lynnfield Street to Averill Road. From the south, they would travel on Richardson Road, he said.

Those who hadn’t had the opportunity to see the new Marshall Middle School, got a first look through a slideshow presented by Superintendent Catherine Latham. The presentation highlighted aspects of Marshall that will be seen in the new school or schools.

Latham expects the new school will feature a cluster system, much like the one at Marshall. The children are separated into separate clusters of about 120 students. The clusters are color-coded and have all of the primary classes in one area of the building.

“We will be doing the same for Pickering,” she said.

The new school will also have the same electives offered at Marshall, including sewing, directing, and art classes, Latham said.

“These subjects make students want to go to school,” she said.

The next forum is scheduled for June 22.

Bridget Turcotte can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Parkland, Summer in middle of school search

Gene Raymond of Raymond Design Associates talks about building a new Pickering Middle School during a site-planning meeting at City Hall.


LYNN — General Electric field on Summer Street and land off Parkland Avenue are potential sites for two new middle schools designed to replace the Pickering Middle School and handle future enrollment increases.

City officials named the locations as the local choices for building new schools during a Monday meeting with design consultants. The meeting kicked off a four-month-long site selection process that will include public hearings.

With a new Marshall Middle School opening this month, school officials have set their sights on replacing the 99-year-old Pickering.

The school is likely to handle expanding elementary school enrollment. But meeting participants said severe traffic congestion around the school and Magnolia Avenue flooding problems rule out Pickering as a future middle school site.

City schools started the year with 3,000 students. But Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said the city “needs to have room for about 4,500 middle school students.”

While design consultants have examined middle school locations citywide, GE Field and Parkland Avenue emerged as preferences for several reasons.

The Parkland Avenue land located behind the “Barkland” dog park is city-owned, said city Inspectional Services Director Michael Donovan, and has not been built on.

The city faces challenges building off of Parkland Avenue if the site survives the selection review. Its proximity to Breeds Pond raises potential flooding concerns and the prospect of an extensive environmental review.

Kennedy acknowledged Pine Grove Cemetery commissioners are eying the land for more burial space.

“They have come to me and said, ‘We have no room to expand,’” she said.

Superintendent Catherine Latham said it makes sense to build a West Lynn middle school, stating, “It’s where the kids are.”

GE field is located in a floodplain. But Gene Raymond, lead architect for Lynn’s next round of school projects, said the field’s location off Summer Street poses fewer traffic problems compared to other middle school sites, including Pickering.

Kennedy said building a second school off Parkland Avenue also makes sense for what she termed political reasons. Building new schools requires bond financing approval by voters and Kennedy said Ward 1 residents who now look to Pickering as their middle school will “think they are going to get a new middle school.”

Plans to build two new schools could include changes at Breed Middle School designed to reconfigure the school’s layout to a more modern cluster concept. It would be similar to the one adopted for the new Marshall.

That change could potentially reduce Breed’s 1,300-student enrollment slightly, underscoring the need for additional middle schools.

Thor Jourgensen can be reached at

Picking a plan for Pickering


LYNN — Prospects for a new Pickering Middle School took a big step forward this week when the Massachusetts School Building Authority approved the selection of an architect as part of the feasibility study.

Raymond Design Associates, the firm that served in the same role in the construction of the new Thurgood Marshall Middle School, was chosen over three other companies by the MSBA’s Designer Selection Panel, which included Superintendent of Schools Dr. Catherine C. Latham, Inspectional Services Director Michael Donovan, Jamie Cerulli, chief of staff to Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, and chair of the Pickering Building Committee.

The selection of Raymond Associates and its principal, Gene Raymond, was met with widespread approval by the Lynn contingent.

“We’re thrilled,” Latham said. “Working with Walsh Brothers (contractors) and Lynn Stapleton (project manager), Raymond has brought the Marshall project in on budget, ahead of schedule and without a single change order. We couldn’t want for anything else (with Pickering). The Marshall design is beautiful and speaks to the program that we feel will inspire and motivate our students. That design will influence the Pickering design with the intention that all middle school students in Lynn will have access to the same programs and the same opportunities.”

Donovan said Raymond is charged with exploring six options for Pickering: build a new school with capacity for 1,660 students; build two new schools with total capacity of 1,660; build a new Pickering and renovate Breed Middle School; renovate the existing Pickering building; renovate and build an addition; renovate and build a new middle school.

Donovan said the three options that include renovating Pickering will likely prove not to be feasible due to the poor condition of the building, a situation similar to what was encountered at Marshall.

“They have to look at all the options, but once you get a close look at the school, renovation would seem unlikely,” said Donovan, who added that there doesn’t seem to be much appetite for a 1,600-student building, either.

The City Council approved a $750,000 expenditure for the feasibility study, which is expected to take 12-18 months, according to Donovan. The total estimated budget for the building project is $132 million, which will include building capacity for more than twice the number of students than those currently attending Pickering, and will address future space issues. If the option with the Breed renovation is chosen, the cost of those repairs would be included in the total budget.

“The goal is to determine what is in the best interest of the city,” Donovan said, “and fit that into the estimated budget.”

In addition to exploring the various options, the feasibility study will include public meetings and site selection, as was done during the Marshall project. Ultimately, the School Committee will have to approve the preferred option, followed by the MSBA. Voters will likely be asked to authorize a bond to cover the city’s share of the cost of the project.

“This is a very positive step in a process that is thorough by design,” Kennedy said. “We have the benefit of having gone through the process for Marshall in the very recent past, and we are very pleased to be working with the same companies and individuals that have helped make that project an overwhelming success.”

The $750,000 for the feasibility study includes $450,000 for the architect, $225,000 for the project manager, $50,000 for environmental and site testing and $25,000 for other expenses.

“The feasibility really delves into the options and costs them out,” Latham said. “It gives us a very clear look at all the options.”

The Designer Selection Panel included a dozen members appointed by the MSBA as well as Donovan, Latham and Cerulli. Among the reasons cited for the selection of Raymond Associates were: excellent middle school experience and past performance with Marshall Middle School; only firm that included a HAZMAT consultant acceptable to the city; good conceptual ideas and middle school cluster development; same project management team as Marshall; credibility with the city and school district; and familiarity with the city and district.


Marshall plan coming to its conclusion

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Catherine C. Latham, Marshall Middle School Vice Principal John Pavia, Marshall Vice Principal Stephine Doucette and Lynn School Committee member John Ford, from left, look at one of the new science rooms in the school during a tour on Tuesday.


LYNN — A Tuesday tour of the new Marshall Middle School, located on Brookline Street, underscored the extensive progress made toward the building’s completion.

“The new school is going to make faculty, students and the community feel better about the education they are receiving,” said Superintendent of Lynn Public Schools Catherine Latham. “New things give people good feelings. The new school will also give our students so many more opportunities to learn.

“The students will be thrilled with the cooking class, sewing class, TV studio, new carpentry shop, graphic design class, computer classrooms, library/media center, well-equipped science labs, bright art rooms and vocal and instrumental music rooms,” Latham said.

The new school building has four floors and is 18,647 square feet, said Owner’s Project Manager Lynn Stapleton of NV5.

Comprised of three buildings (buildings “A”, “B” and “C”), which are all connected, the school is designed for 1,100 students in grades 6 through 8,”  Stapleton said.

The project is moving along and developers are expecting a spring completion, rather than the originally anticipated fall completion.

“The project started in the Fall of 2012 and will be finishing April 2016,” Stapleton said.

Building “A” will be the first to be completed, then building “B” and building “C” will follow suit, she said.

Stapleton led Tuesday’s tour accompanied by architect Gene Raymond of Raymond Design Associates.

Raymond said when working with the city to come up with a design for the building, emphasis was placed on the importance of making the large school feel more quaint.

“Just to put it in perspective, Pickering (Middle School) holds 650 students,” he said.

“We wanted to take a big school and (separate it) into smaller clusters,” he said. “Students most of the time will stay within their cluster. It will help students and teachers get to know each other” and will be beneficial for “positive reinforcement.”

Science labs, math, english and other core classes will be located on the second, third and fourth floors, he said. There will be specialized spaces on the first floor.

“The most important thing was trying to break it up so it felt smaller,” he said.

The new school will offer students new classes they weren’t offered before, including home economics classes, sewing, culinary arts programs and updated life skills facilities that include laundry rooms with washers and dryers, storage rooms and separate culinary areas.

Lynn schools “used to have these programs and now we’re bringing them back,” said Latham. “We’re putting in things that make kids want to go to school.”

“By restoring the culinary arts and sewing programs we’re providing more of a well-rounded education,” said City Councilor Brian LaPierre. “It’s (a good balance) of more rigorous classes with fun and interesting skill sets.”

Culinary classrooms feature station sinks, ranges, cooktops, dishwashers and ample storage. They also have demonstration areas.

The window glass on the building is sound attenuating and blocks out the majority of the outside noise. The decision to use the glass was prompted by trains that frequently pass the school, generating a lot of noise.

“The train goes by every 15 minutes but you wouldn’t know it,” said Stapleton.

Several acoustic studies were conducted to find a solution, said Raymond.

“You will hear it but it’s very low level,” he said. “It won’t disturb things.”

“I could not be more thrilled to see the project nearing completion,” Latham said. “It has been a long time coming, but it is just the first of a series of new schools for Lynn.”

Bridget Turcotte can be reached at