GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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September 12, 2013

No Fuller school choice on ballot

After a final verbal dual over whether the Fuller building could even possibly find use as a school, the council gave a definitive “no” to a school use option, even taking steps to take “school” out of the Fuller property’s name.

While the options to use the now “Fuller Building Site” as a space to relocate some or all city offices, to develop the site for commercial use or to develop it for mixed uses, will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot’s non-binding referendum question, the council voted down at least three other potential options Tuesday that would have given voters a choice to show support for re-using the building as a school.

“It’s not going to be a school again. It’s not in the cards,” City Councilor Joe Ciolino said Wednesday night. “The experts have said no, the parents have said no, and the School Committee has said no.”

The School Committee voted unanimously in January to declare the Fuller building as “surplus,” and councilors have said that keeping the school option on the referendum question after the surplus declaration would leave the building “in limbo,” while removing the option would allow the city to move forward with another use sooner.

Ciolino also proposed the official name change of the site, calling its former title of “Fuller School Building” misleading.

“We need to put an end to the confusion and to the possibility that people envision it being a school again,” Ciolino said.

To questions of whether the name change would serve to disrespect the school’s namesake, Ciolino said, “We’re honoring the man, Milton L. Fuller, and it serves no purpose to put the word ‘school’ in it.”

Council President Jackie Hardy, having said previously that she wished to avoid narrowing the voters’ options too far, proposed adding a school option to the referendum question during the meeting Tuesday night, but her proposal was knocked out with only she and Councilor Bruce Tobey voting in favor.

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