Pickering Middle School (Item file photo)
By Adam Swift
LYNN — Residents in the Pine Hill neighborhood are firmly against building a new school near Breeds Pond Reservoir off Parkland Avenue, as well as a second potential site at Gallagher Park.
Nearly 100 members of the Pine Hill Civic Association and assorted concerned neighbors met at the Hibernian Hall Thursday night to discuss the evolving nature of plans to replace the deteriorating Pickering Middle School on Conomo Avenue.
“This is our little slice of paradise living in Pine Hill,” said neighborhood resident Don Castle. “We don’t want anyone changing or disrupting our neighborhood with a big school.”
While the residents, as well as three city councilors who attended the meeting, are firmly against the building of a new middle school at either the Parkland Avenue or Gallagher sites, the whole issue could be a moot point by late this morning.
The Pickering Middle School Building Committee is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. this morning, with discussion centered on the Parkland site.
The building committee was set to focus on legal documents identified by the city law department tracing historic ownership of land proposed for the school construction.
In August, the building committee approved constructing two middle schools to replace Pickering. One school would house 652 students at the Parkland site, while a larger school for 1,008 students would be built on McManus Field on Commercial Street.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), which would fund a portion of the project, has to approve the potential middle school sites.
City attorney James Lamanna said the law department became aware of documents from 1893 last week suggesting that the Pine Grove Cemetery Commission obtained a loan and purchased the land where the new school could be constructed.
Ward 5 Councilor Dianna Chakoutis, Ward 6 Councilor Peter Capano and Councilor-at-Large Brian LaPierre all reiterated on Thursday night that they are against seeing a new school built at either the Parkland or Gallagher locations.
Castle also brought forward the possibility of a taxpayer initiative legal action against the city to intercede against the taking of the Parkland Avenue land, if that option does move forward.
“I thought Parkland Avenue was off the table, and that’s a move in the right direction,” said LaPierre. “I want a new middle school, and it would be great to have two new middle schools.”
LaPierre said he wants to see a new school at McManus Field, and possibly a smaller school on Magnolia Avenue near the current Pickering School.
A drawback to the Magnolia site is that there is a Massachusetts Water Resources Authority pipe located on the property that provides water to Swampscott and Marblehead. Relocating the pipe could cost as much as $800,000, according to city officials.
Adam Swift can be reached at [email protected]