Letter to the Editor: I, and we, oppose the charter school expansion

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter in opposition to the proposed expansion at the Neighborhood House Charter School located at 21 Queen St., Dorchester. I attended the public hearing held by the Board of Appeal at City Hall and I was appalled at how the meeting flowed where so many residents of the immediate neighborhood, including many abutters who had taken the day off from work to be able to voice their concerns before the board, never got the opportunity to do so.

There is so much neighborhood objection to these plans and we as a neighborhood never even got a chance to express them. That’s appalling, to say the least. Observing the members of the board during the meeting either texting or emailing on their phones, and others making facial expressions during the discussions was beyond belief. In considering a matter so crucial to our neighborhood where we wanted our voices heard I was left to believe that there was minimal interest by some board members and that our voices were falling on deaf ears; that’s horrendous and shameful.

The school plans to add 21,000 square feet to its footprint with 12 new classrooms and a one-story gymnasium. And they will increase the population of the school up to 525 students.

I object to their proposed plans for the following reasons:

• Traffic congestion: In spite of what is proposed and has been discussed, traffic, which is horrendous already, is only going to get worse.

• Nuisance: Any expansion is only going to exasperate the state of nuisance that exists today. There are many issues today that are nothing but a nuisance to the area and we certainly do not want any new ones.

• Child/Neighborhood safety: Already a child was struck by a car on Train Street and any expansion is going to magnify the potential for another accident.

• Construction: Where will all the cars park if the construction were to start? What about safety during this time? There is no plan in place to address space/parking/safety during any construction they wish to pursue.

• Green space: Expanding the school is going to cut down on the green space that we have in the neighborhood. Trees destined to be cut down are well over 100 years old. Respect the property as it is today and leave it alone.

• The voices of the neighbors: A large majority of the neighborhood (in the 98 percentile) do not want the expansion. Listen to us! Hear us! Stop this expansion.

• Fire/Ambulance/Emergency Vehicles: There is very limited access for such vehicles now and an expansion will only magnify the potential for a serious safety situation. Lives could be at stake should a fire ever occur.

• The history of school actions: Several items that were a nuisance to the neighborhood in the past were discussed with the school authorities and we were told they would be addressed and resolved. It was to no avail; they were left untouched. The school’s credibility on addressing items specific to the neighborhood is now non-existent. We cannot and do not trust what they tell us.

• Rock throwing: I am a direct abutter to the school. On numerous occasions, not just once, I have had rocks thrown at my home by the children playing in the yard. I witnessed and videoed them on my phone. These students on several occasions were trying to hit my windows. I also have found rocks in my driveway that had been thrown there by students.

• Summary: I wholeheartedly object to this proposal. I have lived in my home here on Train Street for more than 25 years. There is no way that adding buildings and more student population to this property is going to work. Why can’t the NHCS go elsewhere with their plans, to an area where they can create a school that will work for now, next fall, next year, for five years, for the next fifty years. Make a change, do it once, and make it work. But it won’t work here.

This is a fantastic neighborhood and everyone you speak to that lives here doesn’t just like it here, they love it here. We are a great, close-knit community with a warm and friendly regard for each other. We have more than 175 signed petitions objecting to the proposed plans. It is very, very clear that as a neighborhood, we object greatly to these plans. We are the neighborhood, we are concerned, we care, we live here, we don’t want it.

Dan Howe
Train Street