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.
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