September 30, 2008

Roberts site unlikely to be picked for school

The prospects for putting one of the two proposed 900-student schools on the former Roberts property appear dim at best.
Former Republican mayoral hopeful Ken Johnson called it “an extremely bad idea” and claimed that nearby neighborhoods “will be absolutely up in arms” if the city attempts to pursue it.
It also looks doubtful that the city’s legislative delegation will try to push through a measure sought by Mayor Art Ward that would make it less costly to put the school on the 47-acre, city-owned parcel off James P. Casey Road.
“I won’t be leading the charge for any legislative change,” said state Rep. Bill Hamzy, a 78th District Republican whom Ward hoped would take on the job.
Hamzy said that if he’s asked to pursue a bill that would waive the state’s requirement that the city replace the property with a similar parcel, he would look into the idea.
“I don’t jump into any issue until I’ve done my homework,” Hamzy said.
But, he added, he can’t think of a single instance in his 14 years as a lawmaker in which the General Assembly agreed to waive the open space rules.
Ward is meeting with legislators Wednesday morning to ask them to try to get the rule revised and to prod them to push for a deadline extension on the $130 million school plan in order to give the city more time to make a decision.
Both Hamzy and state Rep. Betty Boukus, a Plainville Democrat whose 22nd District includes a sliver of Forestville, said they don’t get involved in local issues such as school siting.
Each said, though, that if the community reaches a consensus, they’ll do what they can to help.
A decision has to be made “very soon” or the plan for two new schools – one at the former Crowley dealership in Forestville and one somewhere in the western part of the city – will fail because there won’t be enough time to finish required work before the June 13, 2010 deadline set by the state for the project to get underway, said Chris Wilson, a Board of Education member.
Wilson said he still prefers building the west Bristol school on the former mall site downtown, but he recognizes it won’t win favor at City Hall.
He said the most likely compromise would be to put the school on the former Roberts property or at the lot on the southeastern corner of Clark Avenue and Matthews Street.
Wilson said that if the school plan dies, it would likely mean the city will lose out on “tens of millions of dollars” in school construction assistance.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at


Anonymous said...

Seve, Can you put a poll question on the Press website like they posted a few years ago?

Some great questions to post relate to this issue.

'Do you agree with the new K-8 proposal?' - I know this is supposedly a done deal, but so many people seem to be against it. Too bad they didn't vote out the BOE when they had the chance.

'Which site would you prefer for the West End School?'

Anonymous said...

And so the mayor's pipedream comes to another grinding halt despite the fact that his peeps have been telling him for months that he didn't have the votes for Roberts.

chris wilson said...

steve-we'll have to play back the tape on my quote! I don't recall saying anything about renovation of old schools. I believe the first part of the quote is accurate however.

Steve Collins said...

No, you didn't say it at the GOP meeting. But you did at some earlier meeting. Still, I took it out to avoid any confusion.
We'll see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Roberts is best for an open rec space with park stuff, fields and trails. The Chippens Hill area doesn't need more houses that will add more costs and services. It doesn't need a school that will be for kids who live acorss town.

Anonymous said...

Let the roberts property plan stay as it was proposed for fields and a dogpark until the economy gets better and we can afford it. The school should go downtown and bring an end to the bad feelings over the least we know we will have bodies dowtown in the shape of parents, kids & teachers.

Anonymous said...

wow, ken johnson finally has an opinion on something? been mighty quiet since last year, is election time looming in the future?
so we know what you don't like ken, how about offering up something positive, like a choice?....

Anonymous said...

Now it is "not in my front yard " Johnson.

Whatsa matter, hurt your real estate business?

Anonymous said...

"And so the mayor's pipedream comes to another grinding halt"

Too bad. It was a good idea!

Anonymous said...

"at least we know we will have bodies dowtown in the shape of parents, kids & teachers."

Along with all the traffic, kids and school buses...a death knoll for any chance of attracting the revenue producing retail that Bristol needs. Once the recession has abated and rt 72 is finished, we may actually have a shot at making some money downtown if we don't shoot ourselves in the foot by building a school where we should have shops and restaurants.

john reek said...

suggesting the roberts site was an insult to everyone even slightly aware of the whole selection process. open space for open space killed the roberts idea from square one.
having the mayor suggest it just makes it worse.

the arty party was a dud said...

This is great news. Let's not forget that Bruce Lie-Dumb was 110%for the Roberts Proprty school site the next time he runs for office.

And my constructive comment is that the school should be in the west end, between Divinity and Park Streets where the abandoned grocery store is now.

former GOP activist said...

Thank you Ken Johnson and Bill Hamzy for your input.

This proposal was truely ill-conceived and I'm glad it will not come to fruition.

If there is to be a new school, I believe it should be on the parcel between Divinity and Park Streets.

Anonymous said...

Excessively large schools decrease property values in the area in which they are located(due to traffic), and simultaneously decrease property values in the areas from which a previous school was closed (in order to service the newer larger school).

Net result is decreased property values overall, and thus increased tax rates overall.
The inevitable result, middle class flight. Urban areas that create busing-dependent, automobile- dependent large schools eventually sustain and devolve into large poverty areas.

Bristol ranks 135 out of 169 CT municipalities on the Wealth\Affluence. Our position is not to be envied.
The picture isn't pretty now.
So why accelerate that race to the bottom?

Looks like the BOE and City Council are spending the milk money on champagne visions by bonding away an extra $30 million to create these new schools ( not including additional infrastructure costs to support them) rather than taking the fiscally prudent course of renovation and neigborhood stabilization. [130 Million for 2 new schools, 98 to 100 Million to completely rehab older schools to K8]
Why do only certain ares of the city get serviced with school investment dollars, while others are completely and continually ignored?

Woe to those residents who have been redlined.

Why not adopt the principles and practices of land-use conservation and infrastructure preservation when it comes to determining the size and location of our public schools?
Since when does the school board determine our development policies and community values?

The big spenders with grande visions who tell half a story need to be tossed out.
We need to stretch our dollars until the eagle grins, and not be used as a cash register.

Citizens don't need to take on a massive EXTRA debt:($30 million plus interest,plus extra land,plus extra infrastructure costs,plus additional transportation costs for a new school builing program) in lieu of renovating our older schools.
All of this EXTRA debt in order to secure an additonal $6 Million in state rebates? (which results from a one-time yearly fluctuation in reimbursement rates IF Bristol meets an artificially imposed time line.)

Toss out these high functioning morons, simply because they tell half-truths and can't add!

Anonymous said...

If this is going back to the West End School Committee, then all options should be back on the table, including revisiting renovation and rehab and even the mall site. I hope someone has the courage to lead this, instead of just looking at a quick fix by putting the school on the outskirts, far away from the communities it serves. Please consider all options, including the mall site. It is centrally located between all the schools scheduled to close and it limits bussing for the kids. It also can add a gem to our distressed downtown. Route 6 has been our business corridor for years now and even with the Route 72 expansion, it will remain that way. No one is jumping at the chance to redevelop downtown with this economy and it will probably remain that way for years. If you were a new retail business, where would you want to put your store? Unless we develop some sort of core downtown, a destination, no one is coming.

Anonymous said...

"Thank you Ken Johnson and Bill Hamzy for your input."

Geez, don't go breaking your hand patting these two on the back. All Hamzy said was that he wasn't going to pursue legislative change and ole Kenny "cry baby" Johnson just said it was "a bad idea"....that's it. Nothing ground breaking. No new ideas. No positive input whatsoever....NADA.

Anonymous said...

Many options could be on the table if they scaled down the overall size of the schools.
Maintaining schools near the downtown area takes advantage of another major public investment - the newly renovated, rehabilitated, and expanded Main Library.
Nobody is complaining about that.
The childrens library is fantastic.
It's a great place for kids to do their homework, if we sustain and develop a "walkable" community.

Anonymous said...

Gop tax and spend