By Chris Mazachrism@thereminder.com
EAST LONGMEADOW – The East Longmeadow Planning Board approved a request for additional parking at Bay Path College’s
new two-story graduate academic building at the corner of Denslow and Shaker roads.
James Martin, an attorney from the firm of Robinson Donovan representing Bay Path College, explained the additional parking, which would be located at the southwest corner of the property, would not be a necessity when the building opened for classes, but was rather an attempt to be proactive and mitigate potential parking issues as the programs at the site become more popular.
“Economically it makes sense to do it now when the whole project is underway than to try to do it at some point in the future when a small project would be much more expensive,” he said.
Martin added that the school and the developers had already conducted a roundtable discussion regarding the additional lot and intended to comply with all recommendations, which included the Fire Department’s advice to install a heat sensor as part of the fire prevention system in the utility shed that would be located next to the lot.
Rob Levesque of R. Levesque Associates of Westfield told the board the new lot would accommodate an additional 40 passenger vehicles at the back of the property, something he said the school wanted to install with the initial plans, but did not think was possible due to an easement held by Kinder Morgan energy company for gas lines that run along the southern portion of the property.
“We have been working with Kinder Morgan for quite some time and they have a Tennessee Valley Gas transmission that runs through there – actually two lines that run through,” he said, explaining that they were able to configure the lot in such a way that the required cover over the pipeline was not disturbed. “We’re comfortable that we have a plan that not only works for Kinder Morgan, but that will work for the Planning Board and provide the additional parking.”
No additional sidewalks would be added, Levesque said and students and faculty would walk through the parking lot in what he called a “retail parking scenario.” The parking would not be reserved and all parking on the site would be “first come, first served,” Michael Giampietro, vice president of Finance for Bay Path, said.
He added that the plan for lighting the parking lots has also been adjusted to include more modern lighting fixtures that would still eliminate light pollution outside of the site, as was agreed upon when the plan was initially approved.
Updating the Planning Board on other aspects of the construction project, Levesque told the board that with the approval of the Conservation Commission, a small isolated vegetative wetland on the site was relocated to another location on the property.
“That has been relocated, reshaped, and mitigated for providing a little additional area as well as providing native plant species that were found in that wetland,” he said.
In addition, the plans for the building’s footprint received minor changes that actually made it smaller and would allow for more work to make the building more esthetically pleasing.
“When we made those changes, it gave us the opportunity to enhance the hardscape out in front of the building and the rear of the building,” he said. “The hardscape will include granite paving, very nice, high end, and we’ve updated the landscaping plan with new quantities and sizes. We anticipate the sizes will increase above the bare minimum, and we would like to reserve the right to add additional plantings and substitute based on availability, but everything would be native to the area.”