February 27, 2009

Planners say no to proposed expansion of Matthews Street school site

In an unexpected move, the city's Planning Commission unanimously rejected a proposal this week for the city to buy one of two Matthews Street houses adjoining the parcel where it plans to put a new 900-student school.

School officials are seeking to buy the house at 735 Matthews St. and knock it down as part of the proposed $130 million plan to construct two new kindergarten to eighth grade schools by 2015.

Since the school on Matthews Street wouldn't necessarily use the slightly less than an acre lot in its design -- leaving most or all of it as meadow or perhaps someday ball fields -- the planners said it made more sense to leave it in private hands.

On the other hand, the board agreed 3-2 to support the purchase of the Starlite Market beside Greene-Hills School for inclusion in the Forestville school project.

They said the $350,000 price tag was worth it to beautify the new school site and provide more room for buses and cars.

The planning rejection of the idea of buying the house on Matthews Street -- buying about 27 acres beside it already has its approval as well as the City Council's -- doesn't necessarily derail the idea. Councilors can overrule it as long as they can muster five votes for the purchase.

But planners said they didn't see the rationale for spending city tax dollars to create a meadow where a house now stands, particularly in such tough economic times.

City Planner Alan Weiner said Friday that because the lot wouldn’t qualify for state reimbursement of almost 74 percent of the cost, the city would wind up paying for the house and its demolition in order to create a little extra buffer for the school.

He said planners believed that buying the house simply wasn’t worth it.

Officials had also eyed the purchase of another house, at 747 Matthews St., but have agreed to let it remain in private hands. Planners didn’t weigh in on that one.

It's likely the issue will be taken up by councilors at their next regular meeting, on Tuesday, March 10.
The Board of Education plans to build two new schools and to close four aging ones: Memorial Boulevard Middle School and three primary schools – O’Connell, Bingham and Greene-Hills.

The other proposed site is next door to Greene-Hills School on Pine Street.

The Starlite Market purchase would be reimbursed by the state as part of the project there.

Note: This updates an earlier blog post, since removed, that erred about the property rejected by planners. I'm sorry for the previous mistake.

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


Anonymous said...

Now say no to all this unnecessary expense on the backs of unemployed people trying to put bread on the table. No new schools!

Anonymous said...

What planning has "Planning" ever done.

Very shortsighted, and the Planner lives out of town. What does he care about Bristol?

Concerned Conservative said...

A good decision by the Planning Commission. They should have torpedoed this wrong-headed idea the first time.

One could check the Ten Year Plan of Development and I'm sure there can be numerous reasons found why building a new school on the city line is contrary to the Plan and good planning in general.

Steve Collins said...

The city planner cares a lot more about Bristol than most of the people who live in the city. You really think someone would pour their professional life into bettering the town but not care about what happens to it? Maybe some, but not Alan Weiner. He cares deeply.

Odin said...

All you cheering fools need to go back and re-read this story more carefully. The Planning Commission did not vote down the new K-8 school on Matthews Street - just the excess land for a day care center and more ballfields.

Anonymous said...

The City Planner may not live in Bristol (sometimes I wish I didn't) but he does not vote on the Planning Commission. All land use commissioners are Bristol residents and they are the ones who vote.

Now get out of here and get some facts. Jim Calhoun

Anonymous said...

If you don't think that the City Planner has significant influence on the members of the Planning Commission, then it understandable as to why you are part of the problem!

Concerned Conservative said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

To the 4:48 poster: perhaps the next time there's a vacancy on the Planning Commission, you should come out from behind the anonymity of your computer and volunteer your time and energy to serve on the board. That way you can show your fellow Commission members and the City Planner just exactly how things should be done.

Concerned Conservative said...

I don't need to re-read anything. What Odin needs to do is take a course in Economics, then maybe city planning and do some research on education spending. This whole idea is bad planning and a waste of tax money.

I'll take any "no" vote on the Matthews Street site and chaulk it up as a victory for fiscal restaint. Perhaps and hopefully by not acquiring the additional 27 acres, the project may become derailed. Whether or not that is the case, I applaud any effort by city government to curb wasteful spending on misguided projects.

Anonymous said...

Kill the schools project!