September 8, 2008

Yes to Crowley site. Yes to Scalia site. Yes to secrecy.

Breaking a months-long logjam, city councilors agreed Monday to press ahead with the purchase of property to house two new schools.
“I feel good right now,” said city Councilor Cliff Block. “This is great for the children and a great statement for the future.”
The decision, slated to be made final tonight, clears the way for a $120 million project to build two 900-student schools that would house kindergarten through eighth grade children. Four older schools would be shuttered.
Councilors unanimously endorsed the purchase of the former Crowley dealership on Pine Street for $2.1 million.
But they split 4-3 on whether to move ahead on using eminent domain to take the Scalia sand pit off Barlow Street. Appraisers said it’s worth $1.5 million but its owner wants $3.5 million for it, according to a memorandum from School Superintendent Philip Streifer to city councilors.
Technically, the council met Monday as an enlarged Real Estate Committee and recommended to itself to adopt the same purchase proposals at a meeting slated to begin at 7 p.m. tonight.
Mayor Art Ward said that delaying the final vote gives people a chance to speak at the council meeting before it’s too late to influence the outcome.
But nobody expects the outcome to change tonight.
“It’s obvious,” said city Councilor Frank Nicastro, who joined Ward and Councilor Mike Rimcoski in opposition to the Scalia site.
Ward added that the lineup “hasn’t changed in months” and probably won’t again.
Board of Education member Tom O’Brien, who spearheaded the project, said that he doesn’t mind winning by a single vote. He said it only takes a one vote margin to come out on top.
Streifer took a cautious view.
“I’ll wait to see what the council does,” Streifer said.
Councilors spent more than 100 minutes behind closed doors in secret session with the Forestville and West Bristol school building committees before emerging Monday to cast their votes.
The executive session was legal, said Dale Clift, the city attorney, because it focused on the negotiations for land.
Clift said that even though the prices had been mentioned in The Bristol Press on Monday – a leak that infuriated some insiders – the value of a “full, fair and frank discussion” in secret and hearing the details of the deals made it reasonable to meet outside of public view on the controversial issue.
There was no opportunity for councilors or the public to challenge the basic outline of the Board of Education plan to close Memorial Boulevard Middle School and three older elementary schools in favor of two K-8 schools.
City Councilor Craig Minor said that decision had already been made.
“It’s a leap of faith,” he told one disgruntled resident who challenged him to prove K-8 is a better system.

*******
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

27 comments:

John Reek said...

Hooray!!!!!!! right?

Anonymous said...

I left the meeting, picked up a pizza, got home and already you have the story here. Nice, Steve. But you shouldn't take leaked memos!

Anonymous said...

"It's a leap of faith"??!! We are trusting our children's education and millions of tax dollars to a leap of faith? Crazy! That statement proves that they've lost their minds.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for doing your job, Steve, even when you take a bunch of sh-- for it. It's easier not to take leaked material, of course, we the people are left in the dark if you don't, and at least someone around here has to have the public in mind. I'm glad you do. And I notice that you rarely quote people anonymously.

Anonymous said...

They can take their secrecy and stuff it.

Anonymous said...

another lack of leadership vote by the mayor. I hope someone is keeping track. Apparently he would rather wait for the new school fairy to come drop one in his lap.

Anonymous said...

I thought Rimcoski was dead set against the Crowley property because of environmental concerns? Who bought his vote?

Anonymous said...

Last time they took a leap of faith they fell right off the edge!! AKA THE MALL !!!!!!!! Do these people ever learn?? WTF

Odin said...

"Leap of faith"? To do nothing in the face of Bristol's declining demographics would require a much greater leap of faith. It would be real easy for the city council to go into their shells and vote to do nothing - until we wake up and find we've turned into Waterbury.

Anonymous said...

Is it too late to force a refrendum on this for next year?

Anonymous said...

THROW THEM ALL OUT IN 2009!

Anonymous said...

Stortz wasn't so bad after all.

Anonymous said...

the city council and the board of ed are one big joke. they all need to be replaced. let the people vote on these new schools either yes or no. we all know that will never happen because the people do not have a say in anything in this city.

Anonymous said...

"another lack of leadership vote by the mayor"

Kinda tough for him to lead when he's got certain people fighting him every step of the way because he got elected instead of their candidate....

Good job Mayor Ward! Way to keep moving Bristol forward!

Anonymous said...

if your unhappy, ken crowley wants to know !!!

now maybe he can have a school named after him

ha ha ha.........

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone feel we are getting a free ride with the "State" paying 73.9% of the tab? HELLO....where do you think the "State" gets the money for this?? It from Lotto proceeds AND taxpayers. So what that means is if you pay taxes or play lotto, it's NOT the "State" that is giving Bristol the money, it is US, the taxpayers. IT'S NOT A FREE RIDE and PLEASE stop making this sound like free money and such a great deal. In the end , it's coming out of all our pockets. Wake up and smell the coffee. We don't need TWO new schools. Why can't they just build ONE and renovate a couple other ones? Does anyone believe in cost control anymore?? And furthermore, we need to change the City Charter so that the citizens can vote on major projects like this, because this is just plain B.S.

Anonymous said...

Odin: I don't say not to do anything but I do say let's not spend millions of tax dollars and experiment with out children with K-8 if it's just a "leap of faith". Show us something concrete that we can get behind.

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...

Is it too late to force a refrendum on this for next year?

September 8, 2008 11:50 PM


I think the deadline has passed but don't quote me on it.


where do you think the "State" gets the money for this?? It from Lotto proceeds AND taxpayers.

The state does not earmark lotto revenue for education anymore. It goes straight into the general fund. Capital improvements like school construction come from bonding. Taxpayers do pay off the bonds but over time it will more likely be younger taxpayers like me and my children who will pay the bill.

Anonymous said...

"Leap of faith?"
The basic element, the founding principle for this new school spending spree is the supremacy of the K8 system as applied to a LARGE SIZED-school model.
This educational experiment upon which the BOE and the City Council is embarking, has little if any academic peer reviewed evidence of success.

Minor was forced to admit the fact that the model proposed is based on a "leap of faith".

How sad for the city's children.

Ah yes, the defeat of reason, evidence, and logic in the management of our public affairs, and the expenditure of our tax dollars.
Truly, Minor's thinking exemplifies the triumph of myth and mystical processess!
How about hiring some witch doctors to caste a few spells to assure success? Or magically materialize the coins to pay?

Is that the next step, Mr. Minor?
Or would our prayer cards suffice in lieu of our wages?

Anonymous said...

Kinda tough to lead when you don't know where you want to go yourself.

Anonymous said...

2:02 - He's not the one who's confused....

Anonymous said...

Tell Ya what city hall. I'm going to take a "LEAP OF FAITH" and say. You all are stupid for this move. Putting our kids on an old stealership and a sandpit. Nice one school will stink and the other will sink !!! PUT THIS TO A VOTE >referendum

Anonymous said...

3:24

Couldn't prove it by me, and obviously many others.

Anonymous said...

We shouldn't be blaming Ward, we all know that Nicastro is pulling the strings.

Anonymous said...

4:38 probably IS frank nicastro

Anonymous said...

“I feel good right now,” said city Councilor Cliff Block. “This is great for the children and a great statement for the future.”

Apparently Councilor Block doesn't have a clue...Let me ask, "How is this great for the kids?" According to Tom O'brien we don't know if this is a better learning environment but running two DIFFERANT systems as parallel systems we will find out which is better.

I'm sorry but I haven't yet heard a good reason why we need to do this. However, we now know what some of our freshman councilor's know about Bristol. NOTHING.

Anonymous said...

To Mr. Ward"
When you don't know where you want to go, any road will take you there.