GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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December 28, 2012

Voters will get voice on Fuller

Gloucester residents will have the chance to answer a question that has stirred discussion for some seven years in an upcoming, non-binding referendum question asking what they think would be the best use of the Fuller School building.

City councilors voted Wednesday night 8-1 in favor of overriding Mayor Carolyn Kirk’s veto of the city councilor’s proposed referendum, though councilors will take into account Kirk’s specific objections in a likely tweak of the referendum question.

“I don’t see it remaining the same,” said City Councilor Greg Verga. “But the general question of whether there will be a question on the ballot...It has passed.”

Kirk had vetoed the referendum that initially proposed offering voters three choices — repurposing the space as a municipal building, putting the building back to use as a school, or selling or leasing the property, with each option also allowing for a combination Police and Fire Department safety building. Kirk most criticized the option of using the space as a school, after the School Committee had already found that’s not a viable choice.

As city councilors reword the referendum in coming months, the school option will likely vanish from the list of choices, Verga said Thursday.

”I wouldn’t stand in the way of that,” Verga said. “If I’m on the School Committee, I wouldn’t want another body telling me the educational decisions being made are not correct.”

While Verga and other councilors see the referendum as a work in progress, Councilor Joseph Ciolino, speaking of his dissenting vote, said he does not support the referendum as is, and he cast his vote based on what was before him, not what was to potentially come.

Ciolino, also the only dissenting vote when city councilors first voted to pose the non-binding referendum, said he would like to see specifics and financial details added to the referendum before he would support it.

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