SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

June 22, 2009

Trees axed for parking at college's 'green' building

DANVERS — North Shore Community College touts its proposed allied health building as a model of green technology, complete with solar panels, wind turbines and rainwater harvesting.

But last week, the college embarked on the construction of its $32 million Health Professions and Student Services Building by clearing an acre of mature, 60-foot trees that neighbors say was a habitat for deer and other wildlife.

Now, neighbors say an important natural buffer between their homes and the college has been demolished, leaving them vulnerable to bright car headlights and noisy motors from the proposed parking lot across the street.

"The whole neighborhood is different," said Edward Fallon of Hazen Avenue, in a small area of Danvers called Hathorne.

Fallon said the college never told neighbors it planned to ax the trees or that the parking lot would come so close to the street.

"There was no discussion ahead of time, no planning, no attempt to leave us any kind of buffer for the neighborhood," he said.

The 140-space parking lot is part of the college's plan for a new health professions building. The three-story facility will provide more space, equipment and labs for the nurse education, veterinarian technology, physical therapy and other health care programs.

College President Wayne Burton said they had to provide more parking to make up for the 300 to 400 spaces that will be lost temporarily during construction. To accommodate students by the time they return in September, crews had to start the parking lot construction right away. Burton said the college went ahead as soon as it consulted with the project's general contractor rather than wait another year for a window of opportunity.

"We didn't really get the green light to start the project until a month ago," Burton said. "I wasn't trying to withhold information. We just didn't know the information."

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