Here are some satellite photos of our current elementary schools that show the amount of outdoor space our kids currently enjoy.
It’s not hard to see that the ~1000 kids that use these outdoor play spaces have lots of room to spread out and play – on proper-sized soccer fields, on play structures that parents helped to build, and just to run around in open spaces.
Now here’s a look at the proposed school at the Wildwood campus. The footprint of the building is a little smaller than that of the current building but that difference is dwarfed by the increase in driving and parking areas that are required to handle the nearly doubled students, staff, and traffic that would occupy this proposed building.
It’s a little hard to see in the above image but the double row of buses are shown in the loop that surrounds the hard surface play area that will belong to one of the wings. The play structure for those kids is in blue and their grassy area is the triangular green space in the lower left corner. The other wing gets the green and yellow play structures and the semicircular hard surface. Their grassy area is located beneath the steep slope in the lower right corner and is off screen (and off site) at the middle school’s field.
Here’s a side-by-side shot of the proposed plan and the current Wildwood to get a better idea of how they compare. Keep in mind that the proposed site (on the left) would house 750 kids and the current school (on the right) has about 400 kids.
And lastly, here is the slide the architects are using to show the proposed play areas. Note that the vast majority of the “grassy play field” is at the middle school (essentially the outfield of the baseball field). This is an interesting proposal because we were told repeatedly that because the middle school was Regional and not Town property it couldn’t be used as part of this plan for Amherst elementary schools (for example, as swing space or to create a grade 6-8 middle school or to create a K-8 system).
It’s also notable because the middle school play field is down a fairly steep slope, which will require yet more new paving to make it as accessible as our existing play fields already are.