February 20, 2009

City to erase paper road to ease sale of school site land

 To ease the sale of Matthews Street property eyed for a new school, the city aims to erase an old right of way that has complicated the deal.

“Realistically, that section of the highway should be abandoned,” said Andre Dorval, the attorney hired by the city to handle the negotiations.

Sometime in the past, Clark Avenue cut across a portion of the 17-acre parcel sought for a new 900-student school, officials said, but the road shifted west and no longer requires the old right of way.

But as recently as 1976, the City Council indicated the .4-acre right of way could be needed for an intersection fix or, more improbably, a “mini-park.”

The city’s hearings and assessment committee this week agreed unanimously to give up all but a little sliver of the land – which may be used to straighten the junction of Clark and Matthews – and to recommend the council endorse the move in March.

At this point, it appears the city is close to making a deal to buy the property.

Dorval said negotiators are “relatively close” to settling on a fair price and that the differences that remain are “smaller scale.”

He said the city is “staying with the appraised value” in its talks with the property owner’s lawyer. It isn’t clear if the city might have to nudge up the price to complete a deal.

The city doesn’t yet own either of the sites it has proposed to build kindergarten to eighth grade schools on – the Matthews Street parcel and the former Crowley dealership on Pine Street.

School officials have said since November that the purchases have to be made quickly in order to give architects time to do their work before a state-imposed June 2010 deadline for beginning construction.

With every passing day, meeting that deadline looks less likely.But officials are pursuing the possibility of getting an extension to give them more time.

Dorval said that even if the deal falls through, it makes sense for the city to abandon the unneeded paper road.

He said, too, that if the school is built, straightening the intersection is going to be needed.

Dorval said that the angle there now would be tough for a bus to make at all. The construction period on a new school “would be the opportune time” to fix that junction, Dorval said.

The historic house at the corner would not be included in the deal. It would remain on about a 1.5 –acre lot, with the school erected downhill and to the east.

The city plans to buy another dozen acres to the east of the initial lot so that it would have more room for parking, ball fields and perhaps even future expansion of the building.

The city plans to build the two schools by 2015, with the state picking up 74 percent of the tab. It would close four older buildings.


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

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Big mistake. We don't need any new schools that we can't afford. Obama has just put our children in debt for decades to come.

Anonymous said...

How does the City justify hiring Andre Dorval as an Attorney when he is the current sitting Probate Judge? I know this land issue isn't probate related, but I see it as a conflict of interest and it looks bad from an ethical standpoint. The whole point of having an ethicaly run city is to avoid even the appearance of a possible conflict of interest. I just don't get it. What's next? Maybe we can hire Ward to be a garbage man and also continue being Mayor. What gets me is that Dorval is the Probate Judge and you can also hire him as a Probate Attorney for an estate if you so choose to. How is this allowed? How is it ethical? The Good Ole Boy Network at its finest!

Concerned Conservative said...

It's too bad this wrong-headed project hasn't been dismantled by the fiscal and financial crisis that our country is facing (which would be one good point of a bad situation).

John Reek said...

Ahhh the naysayers
This whole project is like dominoes set to fall in a line but they are all twice as far apert as needed.
can anyone even guess the next wrench in the works?
Slow and steady for the new schools.

Pot calling the kettle said...

11:23,

I just gotta wonder why the high standard of ethics you hold other people to, doesn't extend to yourself? Your anonymous insults and innuendos are certainly NOT the actions of an ethical person. Gotta love the double standard!

Anonymous said...

Probate judges are allowed to maintain their private practice as well as serve their court. The probate court salary alone is generally around $60,000.00, not the $100,000+ Superior court judges make. They do not get to handle estates that come before their own court but can handle estates in other probate courts. This is often criticized as creating too cozy a relationship but unless the terms of the will or other issues are contested, most estates are very routine accounting matters.

There is a proposal to consolidate the over 100 probate courts, many operating only 2 - 3 days a week, into only a few regional probate courts. If this is done, there would be a stronger argument to make the judgeships full time with no ability to maintain an outside practice.

As for Judge Dorval, he is one of the most upright, decent and ethical people I know and its a cheap shot to imply otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Andre is a great guy, highly ethical.
However, in light of his involvement, was he the only possible choice?

Anonymous said...

Do you guys lie awake at night, thinking up things to criticize Ward about?

Anonymous said...

12:17,

They HAVE to find things to criticize Ward about. It's not like his opponent has any merits or accomplishments of his own, so it's the best they can do. Kinda pathetic, isn't it?

idiots said...

12:17 - probably, if my thought process was like these jerks, I'd be afraid to go to sleep also.

Anonymous said...

We don't have to, he keeps bringing them to the table!

Anonymous said...

Ward and his buddies are the one making the news....i'm simply commenting on it and stating my position. The conflicts of interest and ethics of the folks that run this town are so contaminated there is no way to fix it. Nobody said you had to agree dude. This is a democracy...no?

Pot calling the kettle said...

Ward's job during this recession is definitely no cake walk and your comments usually go WAY beyond "simply commenting on it."

"The conflicts of interest and ethics of the folks that run this town may be so contaminated there is no way to fix it" (that's called politics), but it was like that a loooong time before Ward and probably will be like that a loooong time after. Compared to some other towns....we're in pretty good shape.

As far as questioning ethics, I have serious doubts about your's, but nobody said you had to agree dude. This is a democracy....no?

Anonymous said...

And Ward has been part of it for a loooong time.

He also had a heads up on the fiscal problems, as did the BOF, and inreality has nothing proactive!

Cutting the proposed budget and cutting costs are two different things.

Even some of his department heads advocate reducing staff, but he doesn't want to becuse the unions would complain.

So we pay and pay and pay!

Anonymous said...

3:34 sounds you've been part of it for a looooooooooooonnnnnnnnnngggg time too!