GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

July 15, 2013

Mayor, councilors must hear, heed residents' calls on Fuller

It’s been four months now since a consultant hired by the city outlined its cold, hard position that neither the current West Parish School building nor Gloucester’s intentionally-neglected Fuller School building may be salvageable for future use.

Now, Tuesday night, the City Council will host an open public forum that, quite frankly, city and school officials should have held long ago.

The hearing, ostensibly to hear out residents regarding what they’d like to see done with the Fuller School site and/or building, is hardly the first regarding a general Fuller use. That issue and hearings along those lines have been held over the last two years.

But the council’s hearing tomorrow night, however, will include the idea of reusing the Fuller site as a consolidated school site on the table — a thought that Mayor Carolyn Kirk and members of the School Committee have refused to consider. Indeed, other sessions have focused solely on reports that either only considered potential development for the building or at the site, or that presumed the School Committee’s long-held position that the current Fuller building is inappropriate for any school use — even though the city’s own pre-school remained on the complex right through the recently concluded school year.

The forum set for Tuesday night at 6:30 in City Hall’s Kyrouz Auditorium won’t yield any City Council votes or decisions. But it should indeed go a long way toward outlining the wording of a non-binding referendum on the Fuller site planned for this November’s city elections.

And it would be nice if, once again, councilors paired that with another closely related referendum — one that simply asks whether residents support the continued pursuit of building a new elementary to essentially serve only the West Parish population on the current West Parish grounds.

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