August 11, 2008

School project backers seek to buy sites

Hoping to push the stalled $120 million project to build two new schools, officials plan Tuesday to ask city councilors to agree to hold a special meeting soon to go over potential sites for the buildings.
“They’re trying to expedite the process and get some decisions on the locations,” Mayor Art Ward said Monday.
The two school building committees, charged with overseeing construction of new 900-student schools in Forestville and in the West End, are asking the City Council to hold a joint session with them to go behind closed doors to discuss “negotiations for land.”
It isn’t clear where things stand in terms of negotiations for either of the sites currently on the table: the former Crowley dealership on Pine Street and a closed sand pit off Barlow Street.
Spurring action may be a worry that unless the pace picks up, the city’s June 2007 request for state funding of about 70 percent of the project might be thrown out.
Ward said he understands there is a two-year limit for the city to find acceptable locations in order for its initial funding application to remain valid.
School officials have expressed frustration at the lax pace of the site selection process, which narrowed in on two locations months ago.
Since then, however, there has been little public indication of any activity, though at least some behind-the-scenes negotiations have taken place, according to several officials.
What isn’t clear, though, is whether the city and the landowners are in the same ballpark in terms of the value of the sites eyed.
Both the West Bristol and the Forestville school building committees asked the council to schedule a joint session with them soon.
They also asked that the council agree to meet as the Real Estate Committee – normally a three-person subcommittee of the council chaired by former Mayor Frank Nicastro – because the site selection law gives the real estate panel a key role in approving any deal.
Two members of the real estate panel, Nicastro and Councilor Mike Rimcoski, voted against the school sites recommended by the committees and are considered less likely to favor moving ahead with the project at all.
The motion sought by the two school panels asks that the joint meetings be held in executive session, which would make the proceedings secret, a move that is legal because it involves land negotiations.
There is no legal requirement, however, that the meetings must be held in secret. That is a choice that city leaders are allowed to make.
How much the public will learn about the status of the projects remains unknown.
The city and the Board of Education plan to construct two kindergarten to eighth grade schools that would each house 900 students. When they are ready, four existing schools would be closed: Memorial Boulevard Middle School and Bingham, Greene-Hills and O’Connell elementary schools.

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Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is the second time that the school project has been stalled: both under a democrat administration.

Either Ward is in favor, or he isn't: he should be pushing for resolution!

Anonymous said...

Ward does not want to make any waves, he cannot think for himself.

Anonymous said...

Let the generals Barbara Doyle and Tim O'brien they seem to control the school board

Anonymous said...

and how do you know that ward isn't pushing for resolution dufus?

Anonymous said...

5:38

Because I am involved.

Impeach O'Brien said...

Torpedo this project NOW!

Time for another petition!

Gerontius said...

The two school building committees voted on July 28 to move ahead with the two locations. Why didn't the Bristol Press cover it? The world doesn't stop just because the reporters go on vacation.

Steve Collins said...

You would think that with the endless resources of the world-powerful Bristol Press, there would be plenty of spare reporters sitting around ready to attend every meeting of every board.

Anonymous said...

6:47

Sounds like Ward wasn't aware of the vote either.

Does he have a clue?

Anonymous said...

give it up most of the taxpayers don't want these new mega schools anyway but of course the council does'nt listen to the taxpayers at all. another pipe dream just like the mall it will sit as an empty lot for years and years. these new schools will never go up hopefully

Anonymous said...

"Because I am involved."

5:55 ~ Well, isn't that special. Seems you hold yourself in very high regard. Good for you! Who cares what everyone else thinks! So you just keep on making that same stupid comment over and over, and over, and over...and maybe somebody (other than yourself) will believe it too!

Anonymous said...

Wait until Ward is sober.

Anonymous said...

8:31 ~ At least he can get sober. Unfortunately for you, stupid is forever.

Anonymous said...

8:09

Because I am involved I do have access to more information than most.

Are you involved?

Anonymous said...

There's only so much money to go around, and so much you can tax the residents for these dreams and schemes. There are limits.

Frankly if they go through with this mega school scheme, my impression and fear is that in a few years they will be laying off teachers. Look at what is happening in New Britian.

New bricks don't teach a child.

As recently reported, test scores have improved admirably WITHOUT new bricks and new buildings.
The administrators and teachers are finally doing their jobs in their current facilities. What took them so long?

So, what's the point or all this new construction?

In the future, will we bear witness to the largest abandonment and transfer of taxpayer-funded infrastructure into private coffers for a pittance ?

The price is that our children will be herded like cattle into facilities that are sized more suitably for a high school or college.

Anonymous said...

Gamache:

Someone used the "s" word (stupid)again! Where's your "coward" condemnation? Oh yeah it's OK when you agree with him/her huh?

Anonymous said...

"Because I am involved I do have access to more information than most. Are you involved?"

I'm involved enough to know that you've never liked the mayor and will undermine his efforts at all cost ~ even if the City ends up on the losing end of the stick. Your involvement seems to be much more of a hinderance than an asset to Bristol.

Anonymous said...

August 12, 2008 11:55 AM:

I got as far as "mega school" in your rant and then stopped. If you're going to lie, I'm not going to waste my time reading what you have to say.

Odin said...

Ward has told people that he won't block it from coming up for a vote, but he won't vote for it either. So you're both right. Give it a rest.

Anonymous said...

What does this have to do with Gamache? How do you even know it's him who is writing these comments?

Anonymous said...

NO MEGA SCHOOLS!!!

Especially NOT in the sand pit!

Anonymous said...

Put Gamache in the sand pit!

Anonymous said...

There are certain conditions required to justify an executive session.
I do not believe that they are being met.

For example, BOE members do not get involved with the negotiation of price: why are they sitting in on that?

Or is Ward submarining the whole thing by going illegal?

Anonymous said...

Ward and Nicastro were part of the earlier group that let the school building issue die.

Great examples of leadership!

Anonymous said...

Sec. 1-200. (Formerly Sec. 1-18a). Definitions. As used in this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings, except where such terms are used in a context which clearly indicates the contrary:

(6) "Executive sessions" means a meeting of a public agency at which the public is excluded for one or more of the following purposes: (A) Discussion concerning the appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a public officer or employee, provided that such individual may require that discussion be held at an open meeting; (B) strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims or pending litigation to which the public agency or a member thereof, because of the member's conduct as a member of such agency, is a party until such litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled; (C) matters concerning security strategy or the deployment of security personnel, or devices affecting public security; (D) discussion of the selection of a site or the lease, sale or purchase of real estate by a political subdivision of the state when publicity regarding such site, lease, sale, purchase or construction would cause a likelihood of increased price until such time as all of the property has been acquired or all proceedings or transactions concerning same have been terminated or abandoned; and (E) discussion of any matter which would result in the disclosure of public records or the information contained therein described in subsection (b) of section 1-210.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that the law uses the word "publicity" ("...when publicity regarding such site, lease, sale, purchase or construction would cause a likelihood of increased price...") and not "facts" or "information". Apparently all the Council needs for secret meetings is that the project be controversial.

Anonymous said...

I thought that I read where the state has something to say about the price, and the way it is arrived at.

If so, and since the sites are public knowledge, then why the need for executive session?

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the city has to get two independent appraisals and pay the higher of the two. If the sale is voluntary the city can pay as much as it wants for the land but the state will only reimburse us for 73% of the appraised amount. If it's eminent domain it gets a little trickier. The city CANNOT pay more for the land than it's appraised value. That gives the owner an incentive to negotiate in good faith, because they could gett a little bit more. That's where the Bugryn clan shot themselves in the foot. The city was willing to pay them above fair market value for the land, but they refused, so when it went to court the judge had no choice but to approve a sale price based on the appraised value.

Anonymous said...

How does that expresion go "Nero fiddled while Rome burned"?

Seems like we have a few Neros!!!

Anonymous said...

And Zeros!