Mansfield residents will have the opportunity to weigh in and ask questions about the planned $65.7 million school building project Tuesday, July 31 at the first of many scheduled public information sessions to be held before November’s referendum.
The first info session is at 7 p.m. in the Buchanan Auditorium of the Mansfield Public Library on 54 Warrenville Road (Rt 89 off Rt 195).
Mansfield Mayor Betsy Paterson said the purpose of the sessionsis to provide information on the project, “so that people are well-informed before they vote.”
If the project is approved by voters in November, it will consist of:
- Renovations to Mansfield Middle School (205 Spring Hill Road, off Rt 195-Storrs Road)
- Construction of two new elementary schools – one on the Dorothy C. Goodwin property (321 Hunting Lodge Road) and one at the Annie E. Vinton site (306 Stafford Road/Rt 32, near the Willimantic town line), including demolition of the existing buildings and the acquisition of adjacent property, if necessary.
- Closing Southeast Elementary School (134 Warrenville Road/Rt 89). Future re-use of that building has not been determined.
The town is hosting multiple forums in an effort to provide several opportunities for feedback and questions. “We’re trying to accommodate people’s schedules,” said Mansfield Town Manager Matthew Hart.
In addition to Tuesday, forums are slated for:
Wed., Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. in the community room of the Mansfield Community Center, 10 South Eagleville Road/Rt 275
Wed., Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. in the dining room of the Mansfield Senior Center, 303 Maple Road (off S. Eagleville Road/275)
Wed., Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. in the multipurpose room at Goodwin Elementary School, 321 Hunting Lodge Road (off Rt 44)
Thur., Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. in the multipurpose room at Vinton Elementary School, 306 Stafford Road/Rt 32, near the Willimantic town line
Tue., Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria of Mansfield Middle School, 205 Spring Hill Road, off Rt 195-Storrs Road
Wed., Sept. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the multipurpose room of Southeast Elementary School, 134 Warrenville Road/Rt 89 (off Rt 195-Storrs Road)
The state is expected to reimburse $ 29.8 million of the project, with the town responsible for $35.87 million.
Currently, the proposal is in the hands of the planning and zoning commission, which has been asked by the Town Council for a “8-24” review, a determination of whether the new school building sites are consistent with the town’s plan of conservation and development.
PZC members rejected the first referral in June, and cited various concerns, including a lack of information about the project. Some members said they believe they are being asked to vote on something they don’t have the authority to vote on.
PZC members will review a second request made July 16 at their meeting Monday, Aug. 6, at 7 p.m., in the council chambers of the Audrey P. Beck Municipal Building, 4 South Eagleville Road (off Rt. 195 next to E.O. Smith High School). Commission members have 35 days from July 16 to make their decision.
According to Hart, the PZC does not need to make a referral before the referendum, but it is “one of the required steps to issue the bonds.”
If the PZC does not endorse it, the Town Council has the option to override that vote by a twothirds majority, or six out of nine “yes” votes.
If the PZC doesn’t endorse it and the council does not have sufficient votes to override that decision, the project could be delayed.
The Town Council also must vote on the wording of the referendum questions, no later than Sept. 4.
If the project is approved by voters, construction on the elementary schools is expected to begin in February 2015, and renovations on the middle school expected to begin in March 2016.
Based on that timetable, the two new elementary schools could be finished in September 2016 and the middle school would be finished in August 2017.
Posted July 30, 2012 as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan
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