District Responds to Middle School Access Road Concerns

HAMPSTEAD – In May, Hampstead Conservation Commission member Paul Carideo raised concerns about the Hampstead School District’s proposal for an emergency second access road for the middle school, after a Dredge and Fill application for the proposal went to the commission for review.

Commission members discussed the application and noted that there appears to be three areas of fill into wetlands, and no retention ponds to treat the areas where the wetlands would be crossed. In all, about 57,000 square feet of land would be disturbed. The size and shape of the culverts was also discussed.
Carideo questioned the sight line where the proposed access road would empty out onto Emerson Avenue and said there is not sufficient sight line for stopping.

After conducting a site walk, the commission sent a letter to the state Department of Environmental Services (DES) outlining its concerns. The commission recommended construction of a non-paved access road or at the very least, an alternative design that would skirt the wetlands or provide mitigation for wetland intrusions.

The state sent the Town on July 11 a copy of a letter from Tobin Farwell of Farwell Engineering Services, LLC in Lee, responding on behalf of the School District. Regarding the road’s impact on wetlands Farwell wrote, “In order to minimize the impacts, the SAU (School Administrative Unit) 55 was willing to remove the proposed sidewalk, thus lessening the impact to the wetland.

“The only location for a second access is to Emerson Avenue,” he wrote. “The access is 75 feet wide, which does not allow for detention or treatment. We would not be able to capture runoff prior to entering into the open field area. We recommend maintaining as much natural woodland as possible for the area adjacent to the existing parking area.”

The letter further states that, “We have located the road as far from the wetlands while staying within the property. There is no land area within the 75 feet to provide stormwater storage or treatment.”
Farwell said the design avoids impacting the playing field, which is part of the educational experience.

He ended by saying, “We recognize this is not an ideal location for an access way. We are constrained within the frontage available. We have minimized the width to eliminate a sidewalk and moved the road to the extent practical to avoid wetland impact. We are requesting this project to be able to provide a secondary access to this school. This is necessary for better service by life and safety personnel.”

The letter arrived at a time when the commission had already canceled its meeting. Carideo has read the response but the commission won’t be able to discuss it until its Aug. 21 meeting. A copy of the letter has been sent to the selectmen as well. The School District Facilities Committee and the Hampstead School Board are expected to take up the issue of the access road project at their next meetings.

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