Monday, March 27, 2017

Mayor Draws A Line In the Sand, Building Committee Steps Over It

Last week, Mayor Dan Drew sent a letter to the building committee assigned to the task of exploring the possibility of building a new middle school in Middletown.  The letter insisted that the potential sites the committee are exploring "are not feasible."

The new middle school would consolidate grades 6-8.  Currently, sixth graders attend Keigwin Middle School, and seventh and eighth graders attend Woodrow Wilson Middle School.  Woodrow Wilson served as a former high school for Middletown, and the facility is in need of constant attention because of its age.

The building committee has suggested that potential sites include those directly across the street from the current Woodrow Wilson Middle School at Pat Kidney Field and the Woodrow Wilson Track.

Drew insists that those sites "are not available" because the are a part of the 21st Century Bond project for city parks.  For the record, the Woodrow Wilson track, the tennis courts and basketball courts have been ignored for years by the city despite being in deplorable condition.  The track and the tennis courts cannot be utilized for athletic events by the school because they are filled with potholes and crumbling surfaces.

City schools and school fields are considered city property.

The building committee, which was formed by the Common Council, fired back immediately stating that the mayor's opinions were "not binding" based on the Common Council resolution.

The committee suggests that the parks project at the site should be delayed and become part of a comprehensive plan to build the school and rejuvenate the park.  The committee suggested that in a comprehensive plan, because the park upgrade would be part of the school project, it would receive a 30% reimbursement by the state.  In addition, the committee reasons that the construction of a new school across the street from the current school would allow the building of the school without disruption to the school population.


Anonymous said...

FYI- "The track and the tennis courts cannot be utilized for athletic events by the school because they are filled with potholes and crumbling surfaces"

The school can't use the tennis courts - they were removed by the city last year - they are gone!

Anonymous said...

Is this a joke? How can non-existent tennis courts be used? Unbelievable!

Anonymous said...


Anna said...

The combined WWMS and parks project sounds reasonable to me, and will likely save money. I don't hear residents clamoring for that area to be instantly turned into a park. It currently looks pretty junky and I'm sure people living in that area complain about that, but if the end result is a beautiful new school and park, then it's worth waiting and doing it right.

Steve Smith said...

Excellent question: is this a joke?
It is a joke that the only (Anonymous) objection to what was presented in the article is outrage over an outdated description of the tennis courts. The fact that the city neglected them to the point where the needed to be removed completely actually strengthens the point being made. No objection to a mayor directing the work of a committee over which he has no authority? Should we prepare ourselves for an Executive Order?
Schools don’t become obsolete overnight. The need for a new middle school has been a known planning consideration for years. No objection to a mayor and the 21st Century Bond committee intentionally (or worse, ignorantly) moving forward with plans that fail to consider one of the most significant undertakings facing the city?
Hmm. I wonder what the new Director of Planning has to say about all of this?
I agree, Anonymous. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

The statement regarding the tennis courts was an attempt to correct the comment in the article, nothing more….
Yes, the city removed them last year. Yes, they were in very poor condition.
(I think they were removed while the crews had easy access to the site, and construction on the new courts has not started. A smart move by Public Works.)

Also, the idea of building a new school across the street and closing Hunting Hill Ave. is a bit much. We do not need a middle school college type campus in the middle of the residential neighborhood.

I think the real joke here is the thinking that combining the two project would result in a 30% reimbursement from the state. Good luck with that….

Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon) said...

Yes, Anon, 9:09,

What a stupid idea to build a school in a residential neighborhood. What are we thinking - that kids actually live in those neighborhoods? I'm sure the new planning director will have some loftier ideas. Better to build a middle school in an industrial park, or by the side of a highway, maybe in that soon to be abandoned space in the parkade on Washington Street.

My name is Ed, what's yours?

Anonymous said...

So the City has already invested nearly half a million dollars on a feasibility study and design plan? Was anyone on the building committee even aware of this? It seems like there is quite a disconnect between them and the Mayor's office. Personally, I think the school/park combo is the most sensible idea. If it really is necessary to build a new middle school (admittedly I do not know much about this as I do not have kids in the system), then that should be a priority. Location is also important, and it makes sense to keep it on Hunting Hill Avenue. I hope they can work this out without wasting more money.

Jennifer Peifer

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the sarcasm Ed… you missed the point.
I’m just saying a middle school project that would take over a portion of Hunting Hill Ave is a bit much.

Anonymous said...

What good is an elaborate middle school campus when the city test scores are in the gutter!! Improving scores are more important than a campus!

Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon) said...

Anon 7:01,

Come to a Board of Ed meeting once in awhile. Then you could at least pretend to know what you're talking about. Because apparently you don't. Fake news doesn't help anyone, especially those poor kids whose score are in the gutter with your opinions.

My name is Ed, etc.