GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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December 26, 2012

Council tackling Kirk veto on Fuller

The City Council is convening a special, single-item agenda meeting tonight, focused squarely on whether to override Mayor Carolyn Kirk’s veto of a non-binding referendum question regarding November about the future of the former Fuller School.

In her veto message last Wednesday, Kirk called the potential non-binding referendum, which would be held as part of the November city elections, “a simple-minded approach to a complex question” that “will grossly mislead the citizens.”

But Councilor Greg Verga, a comercial real estate broker and a longstanding advocate of the need for the city to reorganize assets which were built in the 19th and 20th centuries, described the veto message as “simple minded.”

The council’s vote the previous week to bring the referendum question to voters was 8-1, with Joe Ciolino in opposition.

The council’s proposed question would be as follows:

“What is your preferred use for the Fuller School site?,” while noting that “all options offer potential additional use of site for municipal Safety (Police/Fire) Building/”

Relocate municipal offices to an ‘under one roof’ complex

Renewed use as a Public School

Lease and/or sell property.”

Ciolino reiterated Monday that he believes the question fails to give voters any idea of the costs involved in retrofitting the Fuller as municipal offices or a school. He also said the city could be losing a chance to provide a new home to the YMCA, which is now located on Middle Street.

He said he has been contacted by a representative of the Y who said the organization wanted to move to the Fuller Building and would build a swimming pool and expand services.

Moreover, he said, be believes a consensus has developed around the idea of consolidating the Fire and Police departments into a new complex on the Fuller property, but in a new building — and that this idea is not even quite captured by the options in the question vetoed by Kirk.

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