Board of Education member Chris Wilson posted this as a comment on another thread, but I want to make sure that everyone sees it because it's important:
Some of my thoughts as to why I brought up the mall location as a possible location for a school on the West Side of town.
*the past 30 years has demonstrated that retail on that site has not been very successful. While Luxury condo's might seem appealing, with other locations throughout the city being built I do not see that site as very viable without much more significant investment in the surrounding area.
*if it was such a vibrant site a developer would have bought it before the city did. If it was such a vibrant site a developer would be offering the city $ for it now.
*this site is in the center of the 3 schools planned to be closed Bingham, Oconnell and Boulevard. While the other locations are not as closely nestled in these communities. This site possesses the amount of land necessary for a school campus.
*I acknowledge that using a prime piece of Real Estate for a school usually is not a prudent course of action. But in this case I do. Retail has gone to Route 6. It is a reality that we probably should accept. However, those critics who talk about a loss of tax revenue also must acknowledge no matter where we build the school there will be a loss of tax revenue so the impact is less than stated. Furthermore, last I looked we are not currently receiving any tax revenue on that site.
*The consultants (DRA) did in fact rate it as one of the best sites. If there was a viable commercial solution I certainly wouldn't bring it up. But the past 3 years has convinced me the Centre Mall won't end up with anything more compelling than NorthSide Square. Our history of successful development downtown is not a record of which we can be proud.
*Placing a school in the Center of your community I think demonstrates how much you value education and your children so I believe it is a wise investment. Whenever one evaluates the Bristol Community one of our best attributes named is that it is a great place to raise children. Building a school in the center of town would reinforce that message.
*Finally, for those who wonder who is pulling my strings! I kind of laughed at that one. If you knew me you'd realize that I am not really connected. I make my assessments based upon my experiences, what I read and the results. I wish I was more connected but I'm not.
Let me conclude that in my capacity as committee member I can support any one of the 4 sites. The critical concern is to get the school built so that we can focus all our energy on assisting the students of Bristol to be as successful as possible. It is imperative that we move the dialogue beyond the Physical buildings to the strategies which we can implement to assist schools, families and educators to advance the education of their students.
* While I understand that people may disagree with me I would hope that we could avoid the name calling and labelling which seems pretty prevalent. We can agree to disagree without all the vitriol that exists in this forum and others. While I might think trying to place retail development downtown as "Crazy, foolish or ridiculous" I think I could find words that were less perjorative so that we could continue the the discussion of ideas.
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