BRUNSWICK — Residents of the neighborhood surrounding the future site of a new Brunswick elementary school got a chance to see a preliminary design and ask questions at a Maine Department of Environmental Protection Public Informational Meeting on Nov. 14.

The new $28 million elementary school, which was approved by Brunswick voters at a referendum in June, is to be located where the former Jordan Acres school still stands. The plan is to demolish Jordan Acres in April or May 2018.

The hearing, required by the department, gave an overview of the application for storm water permitting that the new school would require and offered residents a chance to give feedback on potential issues.

According to Andrew Johnson, a civil engineer with Atlantic Resources, the current plan will result in no change to the water table in the area. “The water table, unusually for Maine, is eight to nine feet deep,” he said. That, coupled with sandy soil, will result in little change to the way water flows off the site.

The goal, he said, is to ensure that conditions at the new school will be superior to what they were before.

“We’re actually looking to treat all of the storm water coming off the new building, and a large amount from the pavement, as well,” he added.

Small storm water retention areas will be created, which typically will appear to be nothing more than slightly lower grassy areas. “It will take a pretty substantial event to see any water sitting in the bottom of these,” said Johnson.

Other subjects of interest were landscaping and how parking will work at the new school. As opposed to Jordan Acres’ current setup of one long driveway running from the entrance, the new school will have two separate areas for child pickup and drop-off. One will enter from the current driveway, and the other from nearby Charles Court.

The reason for two separate driveways, said Johnson, is to keep school bus and parent traffic as separate as possible.

The new school will retain a lot of the same utility connections as Jordan Acres, and preservation of trees on the property is planned.

Some residents expressed concern about the extensive driveway running along the property line. In Brunswick, the new zoning ordinance calls for a setback for all parking. However, the driveway technically doesn’t constitute parking.

Councilor Sarah Brayman said the design seems to clash with her idea of the intentions of the ordinance. “As somebody who voted on this ordinance, I was not under the impression that you could run a parking lot along the full front of a lot,” she said. “The intent of an ordinance would not be to allow the driveway to run across the entire front of the property.”

The driveway as it is planned, said Johnson, won’t be encroaching on the property line any more than the previous one.

Other questions included how the playground will be handled, and whether or not there could be a community garden. According to Lyndon Keck of PDT Architects, a decision on a garden is in the hands of the school department.

“Gardens are great, but they need a lot of care during the summer when the kids aren’t there,” he said. “If the school department is interested in gardens, that’s fabulous, we’d love to see that from students.”

As for playground space, the current equipment, which residents in attendance agreed is deteriorating, would be replaced. “It’s a real liability problem for the school department,” said Keck.
School Board Member William Thompson said any playground design would be handled by a subcommittee.

“There was work done at Coffin (Elementary School) by a group of parents that wanted to start rebuilding the playgrounds there,” said Thompson. “They’re going to bring their work as a sort of jumping off point to a subcommittee of the building committee.”

Keck encouraged anyone in attendance to provide additional comments in writing as they thought of them.

“The whole purpose of this is to listen to you folks that live in the neighborhood and live in the town,” said Keck. “One of the most important things here is that you leave with an understanding that you can contact the DEP directly yourselves.”

The department contact for the elementary school project is Robert Green. To contact him, either call 615-2214 or email [email protected].