Charge

Purpose

The Fisher Hill West Uses Advisory Committee (the Committee) will make land use and potential disposition recommendations to the Select Board regarding the Town-owned Fisher Hill Avenue parcels at 110, 124, 150 Fisher Avenue and 146 Hyslop Road; formerly referred to as the Newbury College West Campus (the Fisher Hill West Site). 

Select Board Initial Priorities & Guidance

The Fisher Hill West Uses Advisory Committee will solicit a wide variety of permanent use ideas for the Fisher Hill West Site while recognizing the need to ensure the current temporary municipal users of the space will be able to continue their vital activities on behalf of the community.

Given the Town’s current budget realities and the amount of excluded and unexcluded debt taken on for the purposes of capital improvements, the Select Board suggests the Committee prioritize focusing their study on uses that minimize municipal funding sources, instead seeking out options such as public-private partnerships, grant funding, and the Community Preservation Act. 

Scope

The Committee shall: 

  • Review available documents about the Fisher Hill West Site to understand the legal, historical, environmental, zoning, and financial considerations associated with the site. 
  • Review available documents and assess the ongoing cost to the Town associated with maintaining the property in its current condition.
  • Review available documents that have test-fit potential uses for the Fisher Hill West Site, including: the October 2019 ICON “Newbury College West Campus Re-Use, Test Fit” report and cost estimates, as well as the Housing Production Plan July 2022 public presentation.
  • Develop a community engagement plan for the disposition of the site by no later than December 31, 2023. The plan should include the voices of community members throughout Brookline as well as Town and Public Schools of Brookline (PSB) staff.
  • Interview all Department Heads of the Town and PSB to update a summary of current and anticipated municipal space needs as documented in the Strategic Asset Plan, especially regarding needs that should be accommodated at this location.
  • Define urban design objectives for any use such as open space, streetscape improvements, connections to Fisher Hill Reservoir Park, traffic/noise/visual impact mitigation to nearby residents, multi-modal site circulation, sustainability and climate resiliency objectives. 
  • Develop and evaluate options using land use evaluation criteria such as: racial equity; alignment with Town goals as documented in Town land-use planning and policy documents, reports, and studies ; appropriateness of the use and its impact/relationship to Fisher Hill Reservoir Park and surrounding neighborhood; financial feasibility; appropriateness of a use given the acquisition cost of the property to the Town; appropriateness of a use given the unique size and location of the property; and fiscal impact to the Town and PSB.
  • Develop concepts and order-of-magnitude cost estimates for some use options for municipal or school purposes as needed.
  • Broadly advertise and hold at least two public forums prior to delivering its recommendations to the Select Board.
  • Make recommendations over the course of a written report and oral presentation to the Select Board that shall include three to five use options for further study by no later than December 31, 2024. These options could include any combination of utilizing existing structures, significantly renovating some structures, new construction, open space designs; public or private uses; phased recommendations.
  • Ensure that the recommendations to the Select Board also include a summary of temporary use needs and timeframes as well as a summary of maintenance and utility costs for these temporary uses. 

Resources

The Department of Planning & Community Development (DPCD) will staff the Committee and has $20,000 available in our consulting budget for this Committee’s work, including architects, engineers, cost estimators, and community engagement. The Icon study three years ago cost $16,000 and community engagement consulting would likely cost $15,000. Therefore, Committee volunteers will need to be heavily relied on to complete the work of this Committee.  Once the Committee creates a scope for community engagement, DPCD will work with the Town Administrator’s office to identify potential funds for a community engagement consultant, if needed.

Outcomes

Following the Committee’s recommendations, the Select Board anticipates taking the following additional actions:

  1. The Select Board will determine how long the property will continue to be used for temporary needs, including working with the Town Administrator’s Office and Public Buildings Division to adequately fund maintenance and utilities for those interim needs.
  2. If the property is determined to be needed for municipal purposes, the Select Board will narrow the three to five recommended use options to one to three options that should be further studied for feasibility, cost estimates, and potential cost savings. The feasibility study would then be spearheaded by the potential user agency or agencies. Some of these options could include a portion of the site that could likely be deemed no longer needed for direct municipal purposes (see below).
  3. If a portion or all of the property is no longer needed for direct municipal purposes, a Request For Proposals (RFP) will be issued for a recommended use following Town Meeting authorization.