After months in the hospital battling a rare medical problem, 70-year-old Daley Street resident Richard Morgan finally came home this summer.
He's still struggling to get around, but can use his powered chair to go up the street to watch the children play baseball or even to get to grocery store nearby.
But now Morgan may have another fight on his hands, this time with City Hall.
The Forestville School Building Committee recently voted unanimously to ask city councilors to buy a small market and three Daley Street houses to allow for the expansion of the site for a proposed 900-student school nearby.
If the owners aren't willing to sell, the panel asked city leaders to consider using eminent domain to take the land.
"It would be an awful hardship for us," Morgan said. "Why didn't they come to me when I was 50?"
"I don't want to leave this area. I love this home," said Rosemary Morgan, his wife.
The city is apparently eyeing much more than the just the former Crowley dealership to construct the new school and playing fields to replace the aging Greene-Hills School that has been there for generations.
Officials said that other privately owned land in the vicinity may also been targeted for a takeover, though it's anything but clear that the City Council will agree to use eminent domain to snatch homes and businesses against owners' wishes.
"I'm against kicking somebody out," city Councilor Mike Rimcoski said Tuesday.
Rimcoski, a member of the Forestville school panel, said that the city has other alternatives. He said he hasn't seen anything to convince him the land is crucial to the project.
But the Morgans and several other property owners - at 25, 31 and 37 Daley St. as well as the market at 692 Pine St. - recently received letters telling them their property would be needed fo the school site.
"When we got the letter, we were devastated," Rosemary Morgan said.
The Morgans have lived on Daley Street since 1980 and recently fixed up their home substantially - partly because they no longer had to worry the state would take it for the Route 72 highway project.
"We really don't want to move," Rosemary Morgan said.
Both Morgans said they can't imagine why the school project would need their lots.
"How much property do they need? Rosemary Morgan asked.
Richard Morgan, who has to remain in bed for hours daily, said that he enjoys living beside the school.
"When you hear the children over there all day, it's just wonderful," he said.
He said he just wants to stay in his home, play with his grandchildren in his backyard and live the rest of his life quietly and peacefully.
"This is rough," Richard Morgan said.
Rosemary Morgan said she knows the Bugryn family that was tossed off its Middle Street property to make way for an industrial park. She said she always felt bad for them and thought they got a raw deal from City Hall.
But she never imagined, she said, that someday the city would be eyeing her house, too.
"We always figured this would be the family house," she said. "We love it here."
The city's plan
The city is trying to build two new schools simultaneously, one in Forestville and one in the western part of town.
The schools would each hold 900 students and serve kindergarten to eighth grade.
City officials haven't got land for either of the new schools, but have picked out two locations - the former Crowley property on Pine Street and a sand pit off Barlow Street.
It's not clear if either property owner wants to sell for the appraised price the city has offered. There has been talk of using eminent domain to take the parcels, which would leave the decision about their value to a court.
Now the city is looking for adjoining property as well. It isn't clear how much may ultimately be sought.
The Board of Education plan the city tentatively approved last year calls for closing Memorial Boulevard Middle School and three older elementary schools - O'Connell, Greene-Hills and Bingham.
Students in the other two middle schools, at Northeast and Chippens Hill, would not switch to a K-8 system when the new schools open, educators have said.
It appears the soonest that construction could begin on new schools would be the summer of 2010, which would put the earliest possible opening day for new schools in 2012.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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