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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