Neighbors weigh in on possible middle school over the fence

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Residents living next to a sports field earmarked for a school reconstruction project raised their concerns at a public meeting.

College Park, part of Marlborough Boys’ College 300 meters further on, could be a very valuable space during the logistical challenge that Te Tātoru o Wairau will be.

The ambitious project will rebuild Boys’ and Girls’ Colleges side-by-side on the current site of Girls’ College and Bohally Intermediate School, and Intermediate will be moved to Boys’ College – which could include College Park. The main boys’ college site is 4.4 hectares and College Park is 4.3 hectares.

College Park is home to a number of sports and recreational groups.

Scott Hammond / Stuff

College Park is home to a number of sports and recreational groups.

Following letters from concerned College Park neighbors two weeks earlier, the department invited nearby residents to discuss the project at Boys’ College on Thursday evening.

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Ministry officials and an architect were there to answer questions, although some were difficult to answer at such an early stage in the process. General planning had just begun and there were no concept designs yet.

Several attendees left comments on sticky notes, including concerns about additional traffic and the loss of views and green recreation spaces. We wanted a taller rear fence.

College Park neighbor Margaret Jarman, 88, said she plans to sell her home in the next few years and wonders if having a middleman over the back fence will affect the value of the property .

Some neighbors had rather specific concerns about the extra traffic and the blocking of sunlight on their homes.

Jennifer Eder / Stuff

Some neighbors had rather specific concerns about the extra traffic and the blocking of sunlight on their homes.

“It might be nice to be near the school, on the other hand, it might make the house less valuable.”

Bill Cowie, who owned property near College Park, said he wanted to know if neighbors would be compensated for any drop in property values.

“If they build there, it will be three or four years of construction. How are they going to mitigate it?

He was also concerned about the extra traffic and the need for large drop-off space, as there was only one entrance to College Park.

Redwood St resident Helen Norton-Taylor said she was not opposed to the park becoming a school but wanted to ensure there would be no shade over her section from new buildings above the fence.

“We don’t want a gym or anything that shades us or blocks our views.”

The new intermediate would be over 600 square meters larger than the current one and designed to accommodate 575 students, with room to expand up to 720 students. A multi-purpose room was planned, almost twice the size of the current room.

The new co-located colleges would also accommodate a larger role at the McLauchlan Street site.

There would be almost 130 teaching places for the 2,500 students, with the possibility of increasing to 2,600, which would be more than 40% higher than the current combined lists. There would also be around 32 specialized teaching spaces such as laboratories, materials technology, and arts and theater facilities.

Bohally Middle School administrator Susie Glover said she was thrilled to see the diverse community engaging with the project team.

“They’re all using the park for a different purpose…and they’re all interested in what happens to their green space.”

The project had been “a long time coming,” Glover said. She had been involved since her first announcement in 2016.

“When someone says ‘what do you think of all this’, I say ‘you have to think about the bigger picture’… it will be sensational for Marlborough.”

Helen Nickisson / Stuff

The name Te Tātoru o Wairau was officially donated to the Marlborough Schools Relocation Project by Te Tauihu Iwi during a ceremony at the Omaka Marae.

Marlborough District Council’s director of community property and facilities, Jamie Lyall, said he noticed some confusion over the ownership of College Park.

Rangitāne o Wairau owned Boys’ College, including College Park, following a treaty settlement in 2014, and leased them to the ministry for educational purposes. There was also a pre-existing “pepper lease” agreement between the college and the council so that the park could be used by sports groups.

The park was the home of Marlborough Hockey, with state-of-the-art hockey turf, as well as a synthetic cricket rink, football pitch, rugby pitch and a skating arena with a banked track. The council’s lease ends in 2028.

While all options were still on the table, should College Park be chosen as the primary site for the new intermediary, the council would work with the relevant sports groups to find potential new homes.

College Park neighbor Les McKay has the letter he received in December regarding the quid pro quo.

BRYA INGRAM/STUFF

College Park neighbor Les McKay has the letter he received in December regarding the quid pro quo.

Muller Rd resident Les McKay, who delivered 58 letters from concerned neighbors to MP Stuart Smith to pass on to Education Minister Chris Hipkins, said he felt there was real uncertainty about the future of College Park even after attending the meeting.

McKay said he was pleased to hear that the middle school buildings would not be high-rise and the design and materials would reflect Marlborough. However, he still thought the current Boys’ College site was the best site for it, he said.

Ministry Infrastructure and Digital Highū (Chief) Scott Evans said the ministry and project partners appreciated the input from the neighbors of the three schools.

There was also a meeting at Bohally Intermediate on Wednesday evening. Issues raised included traffic and parking, landscaping and security lighting, student behavior, construction logistics and the preservation of Fulton Creek, Evans said.

Feedback will be considered by project architects and master plans will be completed later this year, followed by concept designs for schools, he said.

“We will hold further meetings with the community during the main planning phase to present and discuss our plans which will have been informed by the issues raised.”

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