School Construction Raises Concerns

Members of the Long Hill Farm Homeowners Association are concerned about how the construction of the new $92 million high school is affecting their privacy, scenery, and home values. After a meeting with town officials, it appears many of these concerns can be mitigated.

A special Board of Selectmen meeting was held last week to address these concerns. Members of the School Building Committee, as well as representatives of the homeowners association, spoke at length with the selectmen and project manager Daniel Hetzler trying to come up with a landscaping solution to the loss of privacy due to clearing the site for construction has created.

It was an amicable meeting, and several options for remedies were discussed, most of which call for a landscape redesign in some way.

"We are not looking for high-end landscaping and we are not trying to be greedy," said Robert Berkowitz, who is acting as the liaison between the association and the Building Committee. "We support education and the new school and we thank you guys for all that you have done. We think it is an incredible job; we are just trying to preserve our community."

Installation of the plant and tree buffer designed to give the abutting homeowners some privacy from the school site is slated to begin in fall 2015, when construction of the school structure is completed. At that time, the Building Committee will have a stronger grasp of what monies are in the budget for expanded landscaping.

"Right now it is too early in the process for us to see how the contingency will be burned up," said Building Committee member Barbara Casey.

"We do have an opportunity to make changes in our landscape design now," said Hetzler. "However, we can't plant anything this summer."

First Selectman Joe Mazza said, "Right now the school building is steel and concrete and it looks a little ugly, but once the building is finished it will be a beautiful new school, and as we progress through the process we will all work to revisit the plan, get creative, and find a way to protect the privacy of the neighboring properties."

Guilford High School Building Committee Communications Subcommittee Chairman Mary Beeman will bring the concerns of the homeowners to the committee, as well as the landscape architect, and Berkowitz has been invited to the next Building Committee meeting, which will take place on Tuesday, May 13 in the Guilford High School library at 7 p.m.

"We will continue to keep everyone involved and informed, look at the concerns of the residents, and find a way to address them as best we can," said Mazza.


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