While the Park Street School’s plan to expand into the adjoining single-family home at 124 Chestnut St. met with a largely favorable response at a public meeting last Tuesday, several Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA) board members expressed concern that the precedent could jeopardize the residential quality of the neighborhood.
“The Civic Association has a longstanding opposition to the conversion of residential [space] into institutional, particularly in residential neighborhoods,” said Tom Clemens, co-chair of the BHCA Zoning and Licensing Committee. “Residential use has a hard time competing with commercial or institutional.”
The school, located at 67 Brimmer St., intends to purchase and renovate the abutting building to provide additional classroom and office space. An enclosed courtyard in the rear of the Chestnut Street building would also be used for educational purposes.
According to school officials, students and faculty would continue the use the exiting entrance at 67 Brimmer St., and the exterior façade on Chestnut Street would be preserved and repaired.
School officials have yet to finalize a projected start date for the project, but said construction is expected to take 14 months to complete.
In response to concerns regarding the potential traffic impact of the expansion, Head of School Tracy Bradley said drop-off and pick-up locations would remain at Beacon Street and Mugar Way, and that the school would continue to educate parents on parking.
“This has the least impact on the neighborhood and doesn’t create any traffic anywhere else in the city,” Bradley said.
Bradley also pledged enrollment wouldn’t exceed the 235 limit previously agreed upon with the BHCA, and that the school wouldn’t expand beyond its curriculum beyond kindergarten through sixth grade. (Enrollment is currently at 177 students in kindergarten through the sixth grade, she said).
Meanwhile, Tara Gohlmann, a Lime Street resident and mother of four students at the school, spoke in favor of the proposed expansion.
“To me an integral part of the community is the Park Street School,” Gohlmann said. “I think [the expansion] will be an amazing asset for the community and families living on Beacon Hill and in nearby neighborhoods.”