September 9, 2008

Now the planners get a say in all of this

Just when it appeared the $120 million school project would win final approval, a last-minute hitch Tuesday threatens to block the whole deal.
Dale Clift, the city attorney, said that before councilors could act on the purchase of two proposed school sites, they need to get a recommendation from the Planning Commission.
What makes the change particularly meaningful is that should the planners urge the council to reject one or both sites, the council would have to muster a two-thirds vote to move forward anyway.
Since support for buying the former Crowley dealership on Pine Street is solid, that’s unlikely to pose a problem.
But the 4-3 vote to secure the Scalia sand pit on Barlow Street for a second kindergarten to eighth grade school during Monday’s session would fall short of the two-thirds requirement..
The Planning Committee meets next on Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m., when it would likely take up the school project request.
Since “time is of the essence,” city Councilor Cliff Block said, he hopes it will move ahead quickly.
Mayor Art Ward said that a special council session can be held as soon as the planning panel makes its recommendations.
The city is eyeing a $2.1 million deal to buy the former Crowley dealership for one of the two 900-student schools.
The Scalia site would likely have to be taken through condemnation because its owner is seeking $2 million more than the $1.5 million appraisal price that the city is willing to cough up for the 36-acre property.
Michael Dudko, whose family’s Middle Street land was taken by eminent domain for an industrial park, told councilors they ought to “walk away” from the site.
He called it “heavy-handed government” that was attempting to steal the land from the Scalias for a lowball price.
The Board of Education is eager to push ahead with the plan to have the two schools under construction by June 2010.
It intends to close four older schools when the new ones open. Targeted for closure are Memorial Boulevard Middle School and three older primary schools – O’Connell, Bingham and Greene-Hills.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at


Anonymous said...

Whatever Alan recommends, the "commission" will follow.

In any case I don't see any solid debate or descension on this issue from this commission.

I'll bet it passes unanimously.

Anonymous said...

For shame.
This is just another political way to defeat the project. Why did four council members vote yesterday for the projects? Because their constiuents wanted the schools. Because it is the right thing for Bristol NOW! Let's have quality facilities with state of the art equipment, lower operating costs, handicap accessible and this will attract homeowners and families to our city. Don't be shortsighted! Enough of the stall techniques!
I imagine to hear next that the chosen sites are ancient burial grounds as the next opposition! (ha,ha,ha)

Anonymous said...

Does the right hand in city government know what the left hand is doing??????

Anonymous said...

The only way the City Council will ever know what the people of this city want in terms of size, type, and placement of schools, is to "ask" rather than to "dictate".
Ask, and not assume.
Other CT cities and towns "ask" for support by placing school building proposals on the ballot.

Bristol's leaders don't ask.
Rather they dictate, and expect others to follow suit. They listen to the "connected few", and allow a few intrepid souls to speak at a public meeting. This does not substitute for voting rights.

The way you determine the character of a man, is to grant him power.

What does this school proposal say about the character of our councilmen? These dominant males, themselves beneficiaries of the voting process, are denying the vast majority of mothers of this city a voice regarding the future of their own children. Mothers, fathers, grandparents denied a real voice ahout the care and education of their own children.

The only thing that is being stalled in Bristol, is democracy.

If the government requires that citizens turn over their children to the state for education, and requires citizens to pay for it, then the state should allow voting rights regarding any schools that are proposed.

Anonymous said...

Didn't someone once say "Can't anyone here play this game"?

Anonymous said...

12:53am - with no disrespect intended, what educational expertise does the average person have to be able to make a "qualified" decision on new schools?
I would like to believe that this "expertise" is the reason that we pay our BOE administrators so much damn money.
I don't think that we can expect to be voting on every issue which we might disfavor.

Anonymous said...

September 10, 2008 7:01 AM:

WRONG, We pay these (extremely over-paid) administrators to do their jobs. Recommending new school construction should not be part of their job description. Educating the children based on what the people want is their job.

How dare you say the citizens of Bristol are not adept at making their own decisions regarding school construction. What "expertise" does the mayor or any of the buffoons on the council (including her former greatness) have that we don't...NONE!

Anonymous said...

September 9, 2008 9:42 PM:

You're living in na na land. The wimpy Planning Commission will never vote this down.

But if it does for good reason (The Ten Year Plan) GOOD FOR THEM.

Anonymous said...

How come the city council and mayor didn't know of this requirement until the last minute? Isn't anyone doing their homework? I would've thought Atty. Clift would have advised the Mayor and Council on this issue prior to it being put on last night's City Council Meeting agenda.

Anonymous said...

Re: September 9, 2008 9:42 PM:

"The wimpy Planning Commission will never vote this down."

Maybe the Planning Commission won't, but doesn't the Board of Finance need to approve any expenditures relating to funds needed for land acquisition? I recall reading at some point that property acquisition will require partial funding from the City which may put the whole issue into the hands of the BOF. Anyone know more about this?

Anonymous said...

Corp Council is a joke! Ward should get someone in there that knows what they are talking about.

Anonymous said...

Sec 8-24 referrals are not a new thing but apparently the timeline developed for this project didn't include it. Too many hands, too many changes in elected officials and staff - who knows the reason but every major initiative needs one. Its nothing new. Often times people think its been done but it hasn't.....

Anonymous said...

Ward is a poor lost soul.

Does he have a clue?

Anonymous said...

The Planning board has a couple of independent thinkers who are not Yes people, so don't draw any conclusions yet.

Anonymous said...

"How dare you say the citizens of Bristol are not adept at making their own decisions regarding school construction. What "expertise" does the mayor or any of the buffoons on the council (including her former greatness) have that we don't...NONE!"

Do you truly believe you are "adept" at making a decision on such an incredibly complicated issue? The only thing you're "adept" at is complaining about your taxes. News flash for you: the city councilmen pay taxes too, and they have been given a lot more information than you. So maybe they actually do know more than you about whether we need these schools enough to justify the expense.

Anonymous said...

For projects of this type, why wasn't the Planning Commission consulted to make recommendations of appropriate sites at the start of this process?
Why did the BOE and the site selection committees decide to "go it alone"?

Wasn't this issue aired before?
Didn't O'Brien and the BOE indicate that they didn't need to consult others because they never did so before?

Anonymous said...

Well, the BOE may hold the "expertise" on best teaching methods and practices; however, when it comes to the size of facilities, and how far a child is transported to and from home, parents have rights and duties with respect to their own children!
That is, to look out for their own child's best interest.

These rights and duties are recognized implicitly by other CT cities and towns by allowing voting rights to residents on new school construction projects. Bristol is not so large a municipality to assume or deny those rights.

The schools belong to and are supported by the citizens of the city, these schools are not "owned" by the BOE.
The bureaucrats, politicians, and administers do not "own" the daily life of other peoples' children. So they should not do what they will, at their sole disgression, regarding the type of school environment (social and physical) to which a child is exposed a daily basis.

There must be parental involvement in critical decisions.

As far as the "expertise" about voting on "complicated issues"?
Citizens of this nation vote for the President of the United States!

Would you deny us the those voting rights because the issues are "complex" and should only be decided by a cadre of "experts"?
How can you deny your
neighbor the right to vote on the nature of his child's own school? A faciltity on which he is paying a hefty tax to support?

It get's down to this, one fundamentally believes in the power of individuals to come to a fair decision regarding the governance of their own lives, or you do not.

One path leads to democratic principles and practices, the other leads to authoritarianism and dictatorship.
Yes, you can vote for a representative to monitor the details, vote in your stead, and report back.
But sooner or later, the individual must have a say. On critical choices that affect course of the the lives of many, the "many" must and should have a say.

After all, we do so for the President of the nation, so why not for our own schools and our own children?

Anonymous said...

The School Building Committee is supposed to be independent of the BOE, but in fact it has been led around by the nose by the BOE since Day One. And Stortz did us no favor by letting them make the principal on each committee the chairman. Talk about setting up for failure - make the guy with the least clout, the chairman of the committee.
They were told to involve the City Planner but they blew him off, just like they were told to keep the City Council informed of their progress and blew that off too.

Anonymous said...

Gee, why didn't Furey make that a Charter change?

After all, he knows everything.

Anonymous said...

September 10, 2008 1:53 PM

You are wrong.

Tom "gotalottabucks" O'Brien knows everything worth knowing.

Tim Furey knows everything else.

Anonymous said...

I thought committees elect their own chairperson.

Who was stortz going to make the chair?
A councilman who might be around?
A board of finace person?
A citizen who is/was new to the process?
The principals have access to staff for clerical assistance etc etc.

Anonymous said...


The Charter calls for a City Council member, a BOE member, and BOF member to be part of the Building Committee.

They are in fact the liasions to their own groups.

Did they keep their members informed?

Did the Council ask questions during Committee Reports?

Take the time to learn before you speak.

Anonymous said...

"For projects of this type, why wasn't the Planning Commission consulted to make recommendations of appropriate sites at the start of this process?"

--Because the Planning Commission is not expected to make any tough, binding decisions other than denying small time developers their rights.

--And please don't try to insult my intelligence by saying the BOE clowns (even funeral director Tommy Boy and the Maoist Doyle) know more about ANYTHING than me. They are expert nose-pickers ONLY.

Anonymous said...

September 10, 2008 12:24 PM:

The only information the lackeys on the BOE have gotten is liberal, leftist opinion from the neo-socialist administration.


Anonymous said...

Actually the Sec 8-24 thing was not a surprise and should not have been represented as one by the reporters. They only picked the sites on Mon. night and only the Council can refer it to the PC, so this is following the course.

Steve Collins said...

I won't bother to name names, but it's simply untrue that the planning referral was "not a surprise" to most city leaders. On Monday night, they said they would take the final vote on Tuesday night. On Tuesday, they heard from Dale Clift that they had to wait for planning's recommendation, so they agreed to wait. It may not have been a surprise to everyone, but it was certainly came as a surprise to the council Tuesday (though its members heard about the necessity before they actually met) and most of the project's supporters who bothered to show up on Monday.

Anonymous said...

Our system of government in Bristol gives people the right to elect a handful of leaders, and that's all. There are some towns that give voters the right to vote on the budget and certain big ticket items, but Bristol isn't one of them. If you want that right, move to a small town...but then be prepared for the entire annual budget to be shot down by a couple hundred cranky seniors who don't want good schools and parks.