WOBURN - The City Council recently agreed to establish the farmstand site by the new Hurld-Wyman Elementary School as the replacement polling station for voters in Ward 3.
In a unanimous vote at their first meeting of 2020, the aldermen sanctioned a proposal by new Ward 3 Alderman Jeffrey Dillon to designate the old Spence Farm parcel by Wyman and Lowell Streets as the replacement voting station for the shuttered Hurd Elementary School.
According to Dillon, who just recently replaced former Alderman Mark Gaffney on the council, the farmstand property, which sits on the same lot as the new Hurld-Wyman Elementary School, should serve the community well as a new neighborhood polling center.
With the Hurd School no longer being used as an active educational facility, city officials intend to "It's very similar parking with 29 spaces. If school is not in session at the Hurld-Wyman, that increases the parking by approximately 50 spaces," said Dillon of changing the polling station. "It's a much better lit area for people to go when it gets dark. I just think it's a much better location."
The use of the farmstand building is somewhat unique in that the facility is still associated with the community's schools, which the city relies upon for use as polling stations during elections. However, in allowing voters to head to a building that is not directly attached to the educational facility, voters in Ward 3 will not have to worry about potential conflicts with students.
Given the rise of school shootings and other mass casualty events over the past decade, local officials have questioned whether the use of educational buildings as voting centers is still appropriate given increasing concerns about student safety.
School officials have tried to mitigate those risks by implementing new security measures, if possible, that cordon off voting areas from the student population. Allowing students to enjoy a day off, the School Committee in recent years has also scheduled professional training days for staff during elections that are expected to attract unusually large crowds.
eventually utilize the 11.2-acre parcel off of Bedford Road for passive recreational uses.
As part of the new school building project, the 7.5-acre farmstand parcel was essentially split in two to differentiate the educational and recreational uses. The old farmstand building, which sits closest to Wyman Street, includes a small parking lot as well as an orchard/tree farm and various walking paths.
Under the jurisdiction of the community's Agricultural Commission, the farmstand side is used for various farmer's markets, special recycling events, and a number of other unique gatherings like an annual "Oktoberfest".
The Hurld-Wyman School sits closest to Lowell Street and includes a separate parking area. As part of the school building project, local officials used a masonry wall to divide the educational and farmstand sides of the parcel. However, designers also tried to integrate various park features like hiking trails around the new educational facility in order to complement the popular recreational parcel.
The City Council at its latest gathering also adopted a series of proposed traffic code amendments that had been recommended for passage by the nine-member Traffic Commission.
The first order involved a proposed parking restriction on Caufield Road near Church Avenue, where city officials want to ban motorists from leaving their vehicles on the south side of the roadway. The intersection is situated right by the back entrance into City Hall and district courthouse parking lots, as well as a number of professional offices and multi-unit residences that are clustered behind more prominent storefronts off Main Street in Woburn Center.
Ward 6 Alderman Edward Tedesco was the sole person to vote against the new Caufield Road parking rule, which will involve a 206-foot strip of curbing on the roadway closest to Church Avenue.
A second order empowers the city to erect two stop signs by Crescent Avenue and Revere Road, while the last involves a change in no parking restrictions on Draper Street by the Lord Hobo Brewery in East Woburn.
Mayor Scott Galvin has already signed off on each of the proposed traffic restrictions.