January 13, 2009

School project in jeopardy

Risking state rejection of the entire $130 million plan to build two new schools, city councilors refused Tuesday to approve the hiring of architects for the proposed schools until lawyers can work the purchase of the land for them.
“There are too many unanswered questions,” said city Councilor Frank Nicastro, who pushed for the delay.
The city is having a tough time working out the details of buying the two sites chosen for the proposed kindergarten to eighth grade schools: the former Crowley dealership on Pine Street and a field on Matthews Street.
Since the city typically doesn’t hire architects to work on projects until it owns the land involved, officials said they were wary of taking a chance they’d pay for design bills on buildings that could never be constructed.
But school Superintendent Philip Streifer said that he’s worried that unless the city takes a solid step forward on the project – buying the land or hiring the architect – the state might pull the plug in its quest to save money.
“We have to spend some bucks,” Streifer said. “Right now, as far as the state is concerned, we do not have a project.”
Nicastro said he will arrange soon for a meeting with state education officials to make sure Bristol won’t lose out.
Mayor Art Ward said that if there’s even a hint that the projects could be killed if architects aren’t hired, he’ll call a special council session immediately.
At the root of the problem is the city’s uncertainty that the $2.25 million deal for the Crowley project will go through.
Clift said there are environmental issues that lawyers are trying to work out.
“The devil is in the details,” said Dale Clift, the city attorney. He said there are “a lot of issues” to negotiate before the paperwork can be signed.
Clift said it would be unusual to hire an architect for $2.14 million to draw up the plans for the new Greene-Hills School before the land is bought.
There are concerns with the Matthews Street property, too, but they appear to less serious. The architect there will cost $1.78 million, if hired.
If the city hired the architects and then the land deals fell through, taxpayers would only be on the hook for work the architects actually did up to that point, probably less than $200,000.
Councilors said, though, they didn’t want to take that risk.
Councilor Cliff Block said the city could hire only the West Bristol school’s architect, since that’s a little cheaper, so that it would have something to show the state.
But only city Councilor Kevin McCauley agreed with him. The rest voted for delay.
Streifer said that it “obviously makes sense” to wait, but there is a chance it will mean that Bristol’s school project as a whole is tossed out if politicians kill any pending projects that aren’t moving forward.
“This is a tough situation,” Streifer said.
City Councilor Mike Rimcoski said the city is “not ready to move ahead” until it buys the land.
“I want to make sure we don’t get ourselves in a jam,” Nicastro said.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com


Concerned Conservative said...

This is great news!

Torpedo this ill-advised, impulsive and wasteful scheme NOW!

Anonymous said...

Ditto Concerned Conservative.

Anonymous said...

What planet does Streifer live on? Everyone is talking about layoffs and holding the line on budgets so that we can't even buy police cars but he wants to spend millions on an architect when we don't even own the land on which to build the schools. He's got to go!

Concerned for Bristol said...

Again Nicastro has torpedod Education,
No wonder Bristol is falling behind.
It is an investmen, not an expense!

Anonymous said...

Come on all you Obama supporters..this project is exactly what he means by spreading the wealth and creating an economic stimulas package. It is an investment in Bristiol's future and survival.

Anonymous said...

great news no new schools we can not afford them. let's just move on to the next pipe dream for this city.

Anonymous said...

While it is nice to have shiny new schools, what else wil the new schools offer taxpayers. Other successful school districts upgrade their schools why can we?

Anonymous said...

Streifer needs to go. His solution to everything is to spend money. We need someone who will use the resources we have and think outside the box. Even the teachers and principal's don't like this dude. He should pack up and leave this task (improving Bristol schools) to someone who is actually experienced and qualifed enough to handle it.

Dissapointed said...

The mayor ain't talking about layoffs (he should be), and the reason we aren't buying police cars is because Artie is afraid to make the tough decisions!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Russo.

Who is managing him?

Anonymous said...

Rimcoski just lost my vote.

Poboy said...

Streifer just wants to make sure new schools are built under his watch, wants to pad his resume' before he moves on. In the process, what he is advocating is actually to defraud the state and federal government, that is, to make it SEEM as though there is a plan in order to lock up funding when actually, there really is no plan. Devious, underhanded, wasteful.

Concerned Citizen said...

Sad to say, Bristol is moving backward.

Their leaders have no vision, no courage.

Shame on them.

Anonymous said...

Nicastro is about Nicastro and his ego. Streifer is about doing what is right for the schools. Five years from now, even more families will have moved out to Burlington and Farmington and the seniors will be firmly in charge - of a ghost town.

yawn said...

yawn, yawn, yawn, the same old boring digs - get a life or at least dig a hole, jump in and cover yourselves up.

Poboy said...

"Nicastro is about Nicastro and his ego."
I have no problem with this statement. Frank does get things done for Bristol though, there is something to be said for the squeaky wheel.

"Streifer is about doing what is right for the schools."
Streifer is about doing what is right for Streifer. Mark my words this guy will be as shrill as can be as long as he thinks he can bully local government into giving him what he wants. This school building stuff is all about career accomplishments regardless what it costs the taxpayers. Purchasing real estate at year old valuations in this market is absolutely ridiculous. Despite the dire warnings, state and federal aid for school construction is not going away. Streifer is pushing this because he has to meet his own timetable of accomplishments in order to further his career.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that this is the basic plan that Streiffer inherited from the Board of Ed and Wasta.
Streiffer works for the Board of Ed: they promoted this plan.
The two committees selected the sites, not Streiffer.
The commitees and the city come up with the price, not Streiffer.
The man is interested in educating the children of Bristol, and is interested in Bristol as a city.
As far as his resume: with the shortage of Superintendents, DR. streiffre would have no problem getting another job.
Lets be fair to the man, lets looka the politicians.

Anonymous said...

All school superintendents these days are the same: gimmie, gimmie, gimmie. They all want to dumb down the kids so those kids will grow up to be voters who will believe anything they're told. The supers are getting a stronger and stronger grip around the throats of the taxpayers with every graduating class. It makes me nauseous.