City councilors voted unanimously late last night to buy about 15.5 acres on Matthews Street for $50,000 an acre, or about $775,000 total. Nobody was too sure of the exact number yet.
The site would be used for one of two proposed 900-student schools that would house kindergarten to eighth grade classes.
The price for the land is exactly what the appraisers said it was worth, city officials said.
"We're right on that number," said Dale Clift, the city attorney.
Mayor Art Ward said he "refused to pay anything more than the appraised value" for the site near the corner of Matthews and Clark Avenue.
The other proposed school site, on the former Crowley dealership on Pine Street, will be in city hands soon. Clift said the closing is set for Monday.
With a deal to buy the 851 Matthews St. lot -- which doesn't include the historic house at the corner and 1.5 acres of the 17-acre lot -- the city will soon have both school sites in its possession.
Now the question becomes whether it can finish the design work and begin construction quickly enough to meet state rules, which still mandate the project be underway 13 months from now. At this point, the city doesn't even have architects or a construction manager hired to do the jobs.
With the state picking up 73.9 percent of the expected $132 million price tag for the projects, it's crucial that Bristol gets a green light to begin the work late, officials said. Whether that permission will be given, though, is unknown.
The city is also looking to buy a 12-acre lot to the east of the school site that would mostly remain as open space, but could be used for playing fields or other needs later.
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