, Gloucester, MA


September 10, 2013

Editorial: Voters should note which councilors deny them Fuller vote

Among other orders of business, Gloucester’s City Council is expected to firm up tonight the wording for a November nonbinding referendum regarding the future use of Fuller School.

And the working proposal at this point, suggested by Ward 1 Councilor Paul McGeary, who is unopposed for re-election in November, calls for offering residents three options from which to choose when they go to the polls:

Relocate some or all city offices to the Fuller site.

Develop the property as a commercial site.

Develop the site for a mix of uses including governmental, non-profit and for-profit uses or some subset of those uses.

But while the ballot question would specify that all options offer the potential use of the fields surrounding the school building as a combined police and fire safety building — an idea favored by Mayor Carolyn Kirk and others — there remains one conspicuous absence.

Unless something changes tonight — and, by all means, it should — residents will not even be asked, even for a nonbinding consensus, whether they think the former Fuller School property should once again be used as a school, likely a consolidated school facility that could combined at least some of the existing schools and serve as an alternative plan to rebuild or renovate one school at a time, beginning with West Parish.

It’s entirely possible, of course, that voters would not choose a school as Fuller’s best future use. That would be fine. But city and school officials aren’t even willing to give voters the chance to do that; indeed, many seem so fearful of a public vote on a school option that they’re not willing to even give them the chance to say so — just as they’ve steered the potential $30 million West Parish school project around any referendum as well.

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