Answers to Your Questions
What specific plans do you have for making sure that the faculty and the broader community of parents and students and alumni can share their ideas and feedback, and how will they be involved in this next stage of construction? What is the time frame on this?
A faculty/staff communications committee has been created and the details were announced to this group during post-planning meetings in May. Additionally, a community advisory council is being created that includes representatives from all our stakeholders: parents, faculty/staff, current students, camp, alumni, and former parents/grandparents. Planning meetings to organize this committee have been taking place, and details and timing will be announced soon.
Are you planning on coming up with an alternative solution to the road going through the Upper Meadow, because a ‘blocked off’ road through the Upper Meadow does not really seem to be any different than a ‘blocked off’ road through the Lower Meadow?
The road is one of the key aspects of the larger construction project that is being re-considered with community input. Questions such as this are important to consider.
Will the animals be able to wander the meadow like they always have when this new environment is complete?
Yes, they will absolutely be able to wander the meadow like they always have when this new area is complete.
Could you explain in more detail where the specific funding for current building plans and any future plans is coming from? How much is already raised? How much will need to be raised – by HM families or outside benefactors? How much will be borrowed?
Prior to the point at which we had decided to pause the plans to complete phase two of the project (the campus drive and two academic buildings), we had raised almost $1 million toward a $1.5 million goal, which was pledged by a small number of donors (parents, alumni parents, and trustees). Our ten-year financial plan took into account borrowing about $4 million, which would yield an annual debt service payment that is similar to the one we are currently paying on a $4 million, 20-year bond for the construction of the early and elementary years buildings back in 2000.
We are only committing to the completion of phase one at this time (the pony barn and animal community, new parking areas, and detention pond expansion and maintenance), with future phases on hold until we reassess priorities with our community. We don’t know at this point what the final cost will be or how much we will ultimately borrow but are amending that information as the project plan progresses. We will share the full financial impact on the community once it is finalized in the next couple of months.
In your May 14th letter, the following statement was made in reference to the Arborist’s findings
“The arborist felt that purposeful replanting could do a lot more for our goals and for the environment than trying to save what is there now. Steve Rowe, our civil engineer who is also a landscape architect, agreed with the arborist’s evaluation and recommendations. Therefore, given what we have learned and the professional advice that we have received, we are going to remove most of the remaining trees within the animal care facilities area. We have already set aside several large, healthy cut trees that we will be milling for use for various campus features and projects, and we intend to set aside more as we go. Looking to the future, we are planning to re-plant our campus with a beautiful, sustainable native landscape to utilize for teaching as well as attracting wildlife. All efforts will be made to keep High Meadows green and a natural, unique outdoor campus for our students. For starters, the areas surrounding the animal facilities, such as the area adjacent to the new “super senior” camp castles, will be replanted mostly with hardy, sustainable, native hardwoods.”
The renderings and estimated timelines in the letter (and previous letters) were helpful to allow the community members to visualize the project that lies ahead for the campus. Can you provide similar timelines and renderings for the replanting plans?
Replanting of Phase 1 areas is on the agenda for our regularly scheduled construction meeting next Thursday with the civil engineer, architect, and contractor. Our architect and/or civil engineer should be able to provide us with revised drawings or renderings, but it will take some time after that meeting. The full replanting timeline is uncertain at this point, but we will provide updates on the construction page as they become available.
What experts were consulted regarding what type of facilities were needed for our animals, including how large the barn needed to be, whether or not we needed double paned windows, and the size and construction of the riding ring, which is not a “training facility” but a place for our youngest students and campers to ride ponies?
During the planning phase of this project, a city arborist and our civil/landscape engineer visited the property to identify/count specimen trees to include in the tree replacement plan required by the City of Roswell. The original plan documents did not include any existing trees in the riding ring or paddock area due to the land disturbance needed to grade the area for the safety of the horses and students as well as preparation for the HoofGrid system. We have always intended to replant several hardwood trees in the paddock area for shade. The trees in question now were originally scheduled to be removed as part of the initial tree cutting. However, there was a change in the layout of the animal area initiated by the city. During their review of the submitted plans, the City of Roswell originally missed a zoning code requiring us to move the barn location from 80 feet from the property line to 130 feet away from the property line. This changed the overall layout of the animal area. At that point, we paused removing any further trees until a new layout was completed and the full LDP permit was approved by the city. It was at that time that we engaged a certified arborist to determine which trees could safely be left within the affected area. This visit happened last Friday.
The animal care area was a collaboration of several individuals including facilities, operations, and animal care. Each brought a unique perspective to the table. Nanci Levine, our Animal Care Manager, has over 30 years’ experience. She researched many options and consulted with operators of local equestrian facilities and other animal professionals. She and I spoke to several barn and other animal structure builders to express our needs and asked for their recommendations. We included as many windows (not double paned) in the barn to help save on energy usage including clear panels in the roof. We selected to install the HoofGrid system in the riding ring and paddock to provide both the ponies and students with a safe, well-drained and non-slip surface which will allow us to give pony rides even after a day of heavy rain.
Will the additional parking adjacent to the community center use a permeable pavement option? What were permeable pavement options considered? If permeable pavement options were ruled out, can you explain why?
The parking stalls are pervious pavers, and the drive areas are asphalt paving. Our civil engineer did not put the pavers everywhere due to concerns of movement in the high traffic drive areas. The pervious pavement type used by the community center was considered, however, our rich Georgia clay soil does not percolate well and this system has proven to not function well with our soil type.
There was an American Chestnut tree planted in the Super Senior woods, the site of construction. This is an endangered species. There was a little fencing around the tree. I’m curious, was this tree preserved?
We were made aware of the American Chestnut tree prior to the start of construction. Our facilities team transplanted the tree to the area next to the new super senior castles.
Have you noticed a new structure behind our old tractor shed? The Project Pavilion is an outdoor space that can be used for a multitude of class projects during the school year and woodworking during summer camp.
If you haven’t already, take a trip to the Upper Meadow to see the new tipi. Watch the video at right for a time-lapse of the installation process.
It has been built on a platform so that it can be used comfortably throughout the year. The platform will also make it more durable!
GMEA (Georgia Music Educators Association) has recognized Paula Williams and her many years of teaching music by giving her the 25 Year Award. We are proud of her dedication and passion for guiding students as they fine-tune their musical abilities. We are lucky that she calls High Meadows home! Thank you for all you do for our students, Ms. Williams! Congratulations!
HMS Students Invited to State Science Fair
Based on their projects presented at the Fulton County Science Fair, 7th graders Riley Jackson (“The Effect Air Pressure has on a Soccer Ball”) and Johanna Epstein (“Egg-cellent Egg Replacers”) were invited to participate om the 71st Annual Georgia Science & Engineering Fair in Athens on March 28th-30th. We wish Riley and Johanna the best of luck!