Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Selling Linden School & Buying Open Space

The School Dept.'s budget plan seems to be to sell Linden School after setting aside half a mil to raze the building & for any possible clean-up (asbestos, lead paint). The school has been empty for a few years & was deemed inhabitable without major repair work. The School Dept. would then sell the land in these fine economic times & use the money for its own projects.

On the other hand, Councilor Santos wants a $2 million open-space bond on the November ballot (requested by the Open Space & Fields Committee). "Santos said the bond money would only be available for the acquisition of open space, not recreational or other projects.The town currently has about $1.3 million in open-space money in its coffers, along with another $2 million obligated by residents."

Linden School has a fairly new playground that was quite expensive to build. It also has at least one playing field. So we're going to sell this, develop more playgrounds and fields with funds we have, then buy more with borrowed money (that cannot be developed). So where will the monies to buy deserted Naval properties come from? Linden School would be a great place to build a senior center along with other rec areas. How about selling Berkeley-Peckham (I remember when Child & Family Services wanted to buy it a few years ago) which is a money-eater due to of its age (Head Start rents most of the building). It also has little parking. BTW, the town does NOT own the playing field next to it. That is owned by Yale which inherited it from philosopher Berkeley ? in the 1700's. It was leased to the town for a nominal fee for 99 yrs. which will be up in the not too distant future. Too bad the town never bought when it could have been obtained cheaply.

While I am NOT against open space, we seem to have a good amount and I'd sure like to see a teen/senior/rec center that all of the residents could make use of. I'd also like to keep that playground & playing field. As Councilor Santos said about God not making any more land here, I agree. I'd sure like to keep what we have before we invest elsewhere. I'm also keeping my eye on that Navy land. I'm wondering what land the Open Space Committee is eying. BTW, there are no minutes online for this group & no contact person listed. Why not? ALL minutes for all groups should be made available online AND with a contact person with address/phone. The Council should require that the town connection to these boards & committees make sure they get posted. This was neglected and an important component when they issued their requirement handbook. Of course, they issued this compilation a few years ago. Maybe an update/review is needed?

Thanks to Matt Sheley, reporter, NDN
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