September 24, 2008

Planning nixes Scalia site

The proposed Scalia school site got a unanimous thumbs down Wednesday from city planners.
Within minutes, school and city officials said they will scramble to try to come up with a different location in the western part of Bristol.
Though the Planning Commission endorsed a school on the former Crowley site on Pine Street, its refusal to support the Scalia site off Barlow Street effectively kills that option, city councilors and others said.
Though educational leaders said a vote against either site would make it impossible to go forward with the $130 million plan for two new 900-student schools, they said they plan to try to find an acceptable alternative.
They’re eyeing vacant land in the Chippens Hill area, including perhaps the former Roberts property, as a replacement for the Scalia sand pit that planner rejected.
“I can’t see how there’s going to be enough time,” said city Councilor Cliff Block, one of four councilors who backed both sites.
The planning veto of the Scalia site means that only a two-thirds vote by the council would allow the location to go forward – and none of the opponents is ready to switch sides.
Mayor Art Ward said he will turn up the heat to try to make the Roberts parcel possible, but other open areas on Chippens Hill are also being eyed.
Planners gunned down the Scalia site because they were concerned about its isolation, the cost of infrastructure improvements and their lack of involvement in making the selection to begin with.
City Planner Alan Weiner called it “a difficult decision” with pros and cons. He said it comes at the intersection of land use and educational policy.
Attorney James Ziogas, who represents the Scalias, said the process “has been flawed” in part because the city planner and city engineer were not included in the decision-making process.
They have the expertise “to help in this process” and they should have had input, Ziogas said.
A number of people questioned the placement of a school near such small roads.
“Is it safe for a school?” Ziogas said. “I know it’s not.”
He said he would also like to know the cost of infrastructure improvements off the site.
Ziogas said that Pequabuck Street “cannot handle the traffic.”
“The infrastructure costs are going to be tremendous” and they are not going to be reimbursed,” Ziogas said.
City Engineer Paul Strawderman said Barlow and Pequabuck streets need help.
“I wouldn’t begin to guess what it might cost to upgrade those streets,” the city engineer said.
There is a one-lane railroad overpass on Barlow that won’t be changed “no matter how much money you throw at it.”
Strawderman said there is “little or no storm drainage” in that area. Plus there’s a need for a water line and perhaps sidewalks, he said.
Streifer said that Strawderman is “exactly right” in considering the cost of the property, but “what we’re all facing as a community is that every cost decision we make now” is that given timelines to make deadline of June 13, 2010, the city needs sites, architectural plans and a contractor to build it.
“All that has to happen by June 13, 2010 or the city forfeits” the 73.9 percent state reimbursement rate on the project, Streifer said.
Ward said that the deadline could be extended, but Streifer said he strongly doubts that’s possible. He said he’s never seen it happen.
Board of Education member Tom O’Brien, who spearheaded the project, said that the Scalia site was picked because there were four votes for it on the City Council.
“It’s taken us 10 years to get to this point where we can have four votes on the City Council for two sites,” O’Brien said.
He said if this plan doesn’t go forward, it won’t happen in our lifetimes.
School Superintendent Philip Streifer said the planning vote “doesn’t make any sense” because it backed the Crowley site while turning down Scalia even though the issues commissioners raised were the same for both.
City Councilor Kevin McCauley called the decision “a travesty” and insisted it showed “a lack of vision” by the commission.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at


Anonymous said...

The problem is that not enough of the city leaders (and I use the term “leaders” loosely) don't live in the Bingham or Park Street School areas and could care less about the underprivileged, undereducated, underserved minorities that occupy these areas. Call it want you want, but it's racism at its worst.

These same "no voters" will be the first to say that we need to "clean up" these neighborhoods. You clean up with education. "Planning" is now an oxymoron in the Bristol community.

Anonymous said...

Planners, Zomning, Weiner, Strawderman, why the yes vote on Crowley and the no on Scalia?
You were advised on neither. Do you see the problem here?

Anonymous said...

Kevin Mccauley is such a drama queen.

Anonymous said...

Sad day for Bristol

Anonymous said...

They got the Scalia site at the same time they got the Crowley site.

Where is the logic?

What is the real reason?

Are the Good Old Boys at it again?

And the kids and the future of Bristol suffers!!!!!

Anonymous said...

On the contrary, there was good vision shown. Now the application should be pulled and plans for renovation started. And let's begin to concentrate on educating children instead of using them as an excuse to build shrines to the confederacy of greed.

Anonymous said...

Yep..all along they have been planning to put the school on the Roberts property?

If Ward wants a war in this town he and his crony Ragaini will get thier way and have the Roberts property.

He'll be a one term Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Thank God that the Planners had the wisdom and vision to realize that it's not smart to put a school in a sand pit at the edge of town with no ifrastructute. The ship has finally been righted.

Anonymous said...

The full headline included the phrase, "school projects in jeopardy". And, well they should be. The formal justification is based on limited research. With half the school system not included, we would would be looking at full conversion in the future.

This whole project is no more than an effort to build concrete monuments to little men and to benefit a few favored contractors.

Tom B. said...

At least someone had the brains to say "this won't work".

I never understood the attraction of the Scalia site over the Park and Divinity location. The infrastructure on Park is there already, it's closer to the populations being served and *gasp* walkable. Bristol doesn't have an excess of open space to build new schools. You are going to have to tear down something if you want a new school.

brainy said...

Thank god! The Scalia site never should have even been an option...

There is hope for Bristol's future after all!

Anonymous said...

Good - nix the whole thing because none of the residents in Bristol want this project to begin with. The city leaders are just to cocky to listen to us.

Anonymous said...

I believe it is time for Nicastro, Rimcoski and Ward to identify site that the will support on the west side of town.They, and especially Nicastro, have avoided the question so long as he was pandering to Forestville.
It is time to step up and be the leader that you think you are.

Anonymous said...

Nicastro, Rimcoski, and Ward DO NOT have a clue.

Anonymous said...

11:47a.m. - I think that it is time that the West End School Building Committee did it's job and found a suitable site instead of playing politics with the likes of minor, block, cockayne and mccauley. If minor hadn't benn such a wimp, this site would not have even been under consideration and the issue might already have been resolved.

Anonymous said...


Right On!!!!

Anonymous said...

September 25, 2008 6:22 AM:

Exactly, and thank goodness for this Planning Commssion.

Now nix the Roberts property as well! It's another bad site.

Anonymous said...

"Now nix the Roberts property as well! It's another bad site."

Why? Do you have your own agenda? We already own the property. It'll save us a bundle and we make the deadline for funding. What's your plan?

Anonymous said...

We own it, with restrictions!!

Will Planning approve it, since they have already approved it for open space?

Will it be held up by other opposition?

Ward has his head in the sand!

Anonymous said...

10:39 - If Ward gets his exemption and we're good to go, then those who oppose would be the ones with their heads in the sand (or up one of their anatomic orifices).

Anonymous said...

Why not get it first?

Why wasn't he working on this weeks ago?

Another stalling tactic, one to muddy up the waters.

Anonymous said...

Ward will never get the exemption, Chippens Hill residents/voters will never allow that land to be used for anything, eminent domain scares the hell out of too many councilmen for a Park/Divinity Street location, Planning and/or Zoning will never approve the Mall site.

Gee, Scalia is looking good right now. It's the only site that has four yes votes on the Council.

The West Bristol School Building Committee did do its job for the last year. Unfortunately, they are the only ones that did.

Prediction: No new schools for Bristol - sad.

Anonymous said...

An exemption is definitely a possibility. The Chippens Hill folks have one school in their backyard. One more shouldn't be that big of a problem. If these are the only obstacles to the Robert's property, then it should be full steam ahead. The only ones muddying up the waters are the ones giving this site a thumbs down for no other reason than foiling Ward from moving the project forward (even though his success would be Bristol's too).

Anonymous said...

Land acquired as OPEN SPACE, that condition would have to be overridden, replaced, or ignored.

Has notheing to do with adjacent school.

Which of Arties friends has enough land available to replace the Roberts property?