October 1, 2008

Matthews Street parcel wins support as new school site

Reporter Jackie Majerus wrote this story:
Two properties on Chippens Hill make up the latest – and possibly final – site being proposed for a new, 900-student, K-8 school to be built in tandem with the one planned in Forestville.
A 17-acre site at the corner of Clark and Matthews streets and an adjoining 12-acre parcel on Matthews Street won the unanimous support of the West Bristol School Building Committee on Wednesday for the site of the new school.
"This was an important step," said Superintendent Phil Streifer.
Before the vote, Streifer pressed the committee to approve the site, warning that time was running out for collecting the maximum possible in state reimbursement on the project.
"There are no other sites to consider at this time," said Streifer. "We are now down to this site or no schools because of the time frame. We've lost months and months and months. The decision is, schools or no schools."
City councilors are expected to weigh in on the location when they meet on Tuesday. If they approve of it, councilors are likely to refer the proposal to the Bristol Planning Commission for a recommendation.
"I'll support this property," Mayor Art Ward told the committee Wednesday. 
Mike Audette, principal of O'Connell School and chairman of the West Bristol School Building Committee, said the land on Matthews Street had been among those initially proposed for the school, but wasn't ever seriously considered because it was deemed too far away from the West End.
"We've looked at everything in the West End," said Audette. "I really would like to have a beautiful site right there on Park Street. We don't have it."
Audette said the new site is less than a mile from the former Scalia sand pit that was twice proposed and rejected as a location for the school.
Streifer said the 17-acre property would likely cost about $880,000. He didn't give a price for the 12-acre lot next door.
The real cost of the whole project to build two K-8 schools, said Streifer, is $120 to $130 million. He said the state would reimburse about $96 million.
"What's at stake here is giving up that investment," said Streifer.
Streifer said he met earlier Wednesday with City Planner Alan Weiner and others about alternative site and learned that the structural issues on the property are manageable.
"All the infrastructure is there," said Streifer, who said the main access route to the property is Clark Avenue. "This site meets many of the criteria that Scalia was rejected for."
The corner property includes a historic home on about an acre of the land, right at the intersection of Matthews and Clark.
Streifer said it would be possible to entirely avoid the structure, built in the 1790s, and even to subdivide it out of the parcel.
Streifer said the 17-acre parcel would probably be large enough, but that the district may want to enlarge it with a portion of the 12-acre site if the city would like to add athletic fields there.
"It should definitely be a consideration," said Ward.
Though the owner of the 17-acre corner parcel didn't attend the meeting, family members who own and live on the 12-acre property were there to listen.
"I'm not happy," said Betty Houle, who lives in the house on the 12-acre site. Houle said she grew up on a farm that included that land, which is now owned in large part by her mother, Dorothy Knibbs, who lives on the original farmland but not on a piece eyed by the school district.
Houle said she only learned Friday that school officials may want part of the property where she lives and is still getting used to the whole idea. She said the house she lives in is not historic, but whether she would be willing to move would depend on the money offered and the time frame.
"There's a lot of unanswered questions," said Houle.
Knibbs, who attended the school building committee meeting with Houle and two other daughters, said the farmland included property on both sides of Matthews Street. She said she's lived on the property for 62 years.
Streifer said he is sure the district can work around the houses on both properties.
"We were trying to find a way to do this without displacing people against their will," said Streifer.
Ward had been one of the three votes on the council against using the former Scalia sand pit for the new school – a location that was narrowly approved by city councilors but so overwhelmingly rejected by planning commissioners that city councilors could not override it without a councilor who opposed it changing his vote.
The mayor had said he wanted the school to be built on the former Roberts property, which the city already owns. Ward had wanted the state lawmakers who represent Bristol to try to get an extension of the city's deadline for state help, and pass legislation that would allow use of the former Roberts property without having to replace the open space.
Now Ward says he still wants the state delegation to do that, as a fallback to the Matthews Street site in case there are "unforeseen consequences."
But even if they succeed, Ward said, relief from the state probably wouldn't be until May and that delay could jeopardize the whole project.

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


Anonymous said...

"... said Streifer. "We are now down to this site or no schools because of the time frame. We've lost months and months and months. The decision is, schools or no schools."

--This guy clearly is a reckless zealot...and a spreader of untruths.

--another dumb location.

Anonymous said...

How dare the Superintendent make such statments. There are other options and other viable plans and locations. He's disingenous and is on the border of being non-ethical.

Anonymous said...

Streifer is speaking the truth which apparently is hard for some people to hear. Lack of leadership at city hall DID cost them months and months. In my opinion, he shoulda come out and just said it.

Anonymous said...

It's a better choice than Scalia, but not much better. There still isn't much infrastructure in the area as far as sidewalks. And most students will still need to be bussed. Also, $52,000 an acre is hardly a fair figure for that property. Who owns it now and what tie do they have to a City employee or BOE? I'm SURE they ar related or acquainted with someone at City Hall. No way is that property worth $880k !! Somebody is going to be grossly overpaid for their cow pasture...it just isn't right.

Anonymous said...

Where the F did we get this loudmouth bozo from? You need to go back to where you came from Streifer. Nobody likes you to begin with, especially the Teachers. Your a pompous, rude and insincere, loudmouth bobblehead. And you did a great job tonight making even more friends. You have some nerve coming into this town as a newbie and trying to take control of the puppet strings. Nice try, but you will not succeed. We don't like to be told what to do or have decisions forced down our throats. The community is stronger than you think we are and we will find a legal way to get our say as well. Does he even live in this town and pay taxes? The horse and pony show gets better everyday. God Bless America.

Anonymous said...

Re: 10:21 / 10:28

If you really believe Dr. Streifer to be a "reckless zealot, spreader of untruths and bordering on non-ethical," then you have not spoken to him, heard him speak in public or have ever met the man.

One problem with blogs and bloggers is that individuals can make statements that make no sense and have no factual basis. I will bet a month's pay, you would not know him if he were sitting in your living room.

For the umpteenth time, it is 2 schools or none.

Anonymous said...

Spend Spend Spend

Did anyone happen to notice that there is a world-wide financial crisis? Small businesses, large buinesses and individuals are having trouble getting credit.

Is spending $35 to $40 million which will require raising taxes for Bristol taxpayers the right thing to do? Many people have or are at risk of losing their jobs, closing their small businesses or being not able to pay their mortgage.

Even though the state is supposed to kick in 74% the state has a growing deficit and projects such as these should be put on hold in such dire economic times. Connecticut taxpayers are already going to be in for a rude awakening come Novemeber as they face a 1/2 billion to billion dollar deficit by the year's end.

Anonymous said...

i'm hearing all this empty talk but if anyone thinking about the pre k kids where will they go these new school are k thru 8 ?

Anonymous said...

"I will bet a month's pay, you would not know him if he were sitting in your living room"

--My comment was in reference to his comments regarding the new school site. Otherwise I know nothing of the man. But in regards to his comments on this matter, I believe I am correct.

--Again this is a lousy site. Why not just buy some land in Plymouth and build the school there (being facetious)?

--Crig Minor (I believe) was for the wets end site). What's wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

Re: 6:08 Blog

Your comments remind me in the opposite direction what a very wise man once told me. He said, "If you wait to buy a home for your young family when you can really afford the payments, you will never own a home."

Twenty-seven years later, I am happy I took my dad's advice and will thank him even more in 3 years.

You call it spending, I call it saving.

Anonymous said...

It seems shortsighted to push a project through at an undesirable location simply due to the fear that the City will see a reduced state reimbursement rate. I understand that we don't want to waste taxpayer money. But, we're going to be stuck with these schools and locations for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Total abandonment of the downtown and inner neigbborhoods of Bristol.

The message has been sent loud and clear to the residents of the inner core and old city:
"You've made a bad investment"
"The area in which you live is not worth maintaining or supporting with a school - you low income low,life trash!"
"Forestville counts, but you don't."
"So now, we're gone to haul you're kids to a better place, a more affluent place. This makes us feel better because we don't like looking at old stuff anymore. You should feel better because now your kids can see new stuff too."
"No matter if the home or property in which you invested, declines in value, so what! It's old stuff."
No matter if its less expensive to fix your old stuff.
"The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer."
"Wake up dumb fool, you and you're kids are just the pawns for the school-consulting- construction-industrial-complex.
Stick the brats on the bus, smile, inhale the smog, and pay."
"Pay EXTRA for your own eventual financial decline."
"The consulting and construction contracts are securely in hand.
Haven't you noticed, fool, that game is rigged so that those that eventually build schools, also write the feasibiltiy reports for them?"
"So give up your small school. Now it's going to be 900+ kids in a primary school."

"Have you noticed, dumb fool, that you are so disrespected that
YOU don't even get the courtesy of a public hearing about where you're kid shall spend his days?
We can change our minds anytime we choose, for any reason we choose,just to close this deal."
The teachers? Ha! and double Ha,Ha!"

"YOU HAVE NO VOTE, dumb fool. (Although you're neigboring towns' vote on school construction projects)"

"Your own politicians and elected officials thumb their noses at you. They will never allow this question to be placed on the ballot"
Nevertheless, it shall be amusing to watch them dance and tip-tap around for a while.

"Dumb fool, dumb fool, you live in Bristol.
Ha, Ha, Ha!
Now, pay up."
The SCCIC rules!

Anonymous said...

11:51am - my, my you don't seem very happy - is it what they said, didn't say or what they diddidn't do or both?

john Reek said...

This new site is a manufactured dilemma totally made up by the inept planning commission. the planning commission never made the forestville committee jump through any of these hoops never made them grovel and play nice for thier "co-operation".
Now the planning commission gived thier tenative blessing?
Strifer stated he apologized to the committee for not involving them earlier I feel he never should have done that now they are going to think way too much of themselves

Anonymous said...

This new choice makes no sense.
First, the siting committee rejects the location because it's too far away from the West End or the children they are serving.
Now, they accept it, in spite of the reasons they rejected it, or failed to consider it, in the first place.
If it was bad then, it's just as bad now.
So why do it?

On top of that, play the fear card with an ultimatum -
"It's schools or no schools"


No wonder that 11:58 person is ranting.
What's SCCIC? Looks like it's pronounced like "sick"?

Anonymous said...

Moving forward? with Ward.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Romcoski and Nicastro will do with this recommendation? Probably say "no" and yet provide no alternative.If you cannot be constructive and add to the debate, it is time to leave.

Anonymous said...

Put it at the mall site and save us all money and time and aggrivation. That site will never be retail!

Anonymous said...

Put the school downtown. Location matters. Invest some public wealth in an area that needs it. Schools are generally viewed as a neighborhood asset. Think more about creating neighborhoods where young people who don't have a ton of money can buy a home. A place where streets are relatively safe, with nice schools. That hole in the heart of Bristol screams "Urban Decay."

Anonymous said...

I don't understand what the city is thinking. USE THE LAND THE CITY ALREADY OWNS! Why displace people out of their homes? The Roberts property opposite Chippens Hill Middle School is perfect. The city already owns it and it's empty!!!! OR I also agree with using the old Center Mall site. Central location and sidewalks all around

Anonymous said...

The city may "own" both sites, but each one has a huge financial obligation if we were to try to use it for a school.

So, there ain't no free lunch.

Anonymous said...

Put it on the mall site, not on the city line.

This plan presents a terrible busing issue (up hill).

Boooooo to all these people involved.

Anonymous said...


Next you will want to move Ivy Drive and Northeast.

Anonymous said...

How about the massive Associated Spring building that is also in the Downtown area. Have you looked at the union worker parking lot lately? It reminds me of New Departure in its last days.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, remember those days, Tom?