It remains unclear how much pollution there may be on the former Crowley dealership in Forestville where officials plan to build a new school.
Mayor William Stortz said that car dealer Ken Crowley gave him phase 1 and phase 2 environmental studies that were done on the property beside Greene-Hills School.
But, the mayor said, he hasn't read them.
The existence of a phase 2 study indicates that there was at least some concern that the parcel might be polluted, but if there is a serious problem, a phase 3 study would normally follow.
City Councilor Craig Minor said that "we know the site is relatively clean" because of the two studies. He did explain what the reports said.
City Councilor Frank Nicastro voted against giving even tentative approval to the site because he hadn't seen the pollution reports.
"It would have been nice if it was shared with the council," Nicastro said.
Tom O'Brien, the school board member spearheading the effort to build two new schools, said that the council's approval merely meant the Crowley property was the right place for a new school.
Stortz said that the decision by councilors was "not the final call," merely the go-ahead needed to begin in-depth work on the plan to find out if it would work out on that site.
"It's not like it was the last hurrah," the mayor said. "They're going to have another shot at it."
City Councilor Kevin McCauley said that the matter would come back to the council when all the issues have been uncovered and the dollar figures known.
"Your hammer is the dollars," Stortz told councilors recently.
Nicastro said the lack of public input into the plan is a serious problem. He said he hopes that educators will allow for much more discussion in the weeks ahead.
O'Brien merely promised that meetings would be open to the public, which is something the law requires. He did not promise any hearings.
The school board plans to construct two new schools in town, one on the Crowley site and one somewhere in the western part of the city. Each would have 900 students and serve kindergarten to eighth grade.
As part of the plan, educators plan to close three old elementary schools – Greene-Hills, O’Connell and Bingham – as well as Memorial Boulevard Middle School.
The concept has gained a green light from the City Council and Board of Finance.
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