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Wayland Public Schools is searching for a place where the district’s school buses can be parked, as the transfer station that the school system is currently using has been sold.
“The town’s owned property, called the transfer station, has been sold and is being developed into residential housing, or housing units,” Wayland Director of Finance and Operations Susan Bottan said. “This area is going to be called River’s Edge, and the development of that property requires that our buses move out of that space. The issue we’re facing is: where do we place the buses?”
Bottan’s job is to oversee the financial and budgeting aspects of the school department budget. She also focuses on the budget of the support services that are associated with WPS, which include school lunches and busing. Bottan works closely with the facilities department to resolve issues that have a budgeting aspect.
On Wednesday, Jan. 9, Bottan met with the town manager and the town building department director to discuss a potential place for the school buses to be parked. One area that has been identified is a site in Sudbury owned by the Massachusetts Highway Department.
“[The Massachusetts Highway Department] is willing to license the space to us to allow us to essentially use the space,” Bottan said. “They use it now to park all of their big plow trucks and to store their sand and salt, and they’d be willing to share that property with our school buses.”
Securing a space for the school district’s buses is a long and complicated process, and Bottan explained how she tries to fit the requirements needed for parking the buses while also pleasing the residents of Wayland.
“We’ve gone through this really involved and complex public process of reviewing all town-owned space of an acre or more that is suitable for parking buses,” Bottan said. “We have had lots of meetings with all sorts of constituents in town, from not only the bus company but also the historical society, the DPW and public safety. We’ve also hired an engineering firm to help us understand which, of the spaces that are available, might be best suited for parking and what might provide the least disruption to our families and neighbors.”
The process of choosing the area in which to park buses involves numerous different people that have to communicate with each other. The group that first decided the area of interest was the School Committee.
“Many people have come together to attempt to identify an appropriate space, and each step along the way those options have been presented and discussed in public sessions with our school committee,” Bottan said. “Our school committee is in charge of identifying the space that they believe would be in the town’s best interest for bus parking, and they have narrowed down the number of spaces.”
The bus drivers themselves have also been involved in the decision-making process, as they have been asked for their feedback about multiple different sites.
“The bus drivers have been involved in [the process],” Bottan said. “We have looked at leasing space, and we got the drivers’ feedback about the space that was looked at. We’re now looking at the MassDOT site, and the transportation department has looked over that site as well.”
It is the choice of the Wayland Board of Selectmen on where the final parking site will be, and they will vote on the topic. However, they want to know that the School Committee supports their final decision, so the committee will have a preliminary vote.
According to Bottan, the landing spot for where the buses will park will be finalized in the coming months.