SNL Academy Planned for Gold’s Gym Site

Reading, MA — The Community Planning and Development Commission (CPDC) added a meeting on September 9 for the purpose of considering the site plan for the SNL Academy, an academic and athletic support center to be housed in 18,500 square feet of space at 100 General Way, the former Gold’s Gym. According to SNL coordinator Carl McFadden, the academy will provide a “safe, structured environment” for Reading Public Schools (RPS) students in grades one through six while engaged in their remote learning. McFadden continued sharing that the intent is not to replace the RPS, but rather to “enhance the educational experience.” SNL will be coordinating with RPS to ensure that its scheduling is “synchronous” with RPS plans.

Former Gold’s Gym location at One General Way

CPDC member Nick Safina expressed concerns regarding drop off and pick up traffic at the site. Project Architect Ron Renere shared that he had worked with the Reading Police Department to develop two different drop off areas for families in a style modeled after what is done at the Wood End Elementary School. 

“We can get a child out of a car faster than Bagel World can make a bagel.” McFadden declared.

 Renere also said that the site is designed to be used by only 100 children and that drop off time is forty-five minutes long. “We are confident that we will be able to get people through,” McFadden affirmed.

CPDC chair John Weston stated that he thought the special meeting for the project was “prudent” because of the timing of the beginning of school. McFadden thanked the commission for this, sharing that the community had given him positive feedback on the idea and that the new academy will “allow people to go back to work.” Weston did express concern about the speed people travel on General Way, using it as a cut-through to Main Street. Property owner Jodie Heyward assured Weston that speed bumps would be added to slow cars down on General Way.

After discussion, CPDC voted 4-0 to approve the site plan with a series of waivers that Weston deemed “appropriate” given that no changes are being made to the building itself. The decision also included conditions regarding assurances that certain codes, including Americans with Disabilities Act concerns, are met before occupancy.

CPDC also had a brief discussion regarding a proposal for a COVID-19 testing tent at 30 New Crossing Road. No determinations were made on this issue.

CPDC adjourned at 10:00 pm.

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