Board votes down Holland site

Published 11:14 pm Friday, January 15, 2010

The location of the replacement school for Robertson and Southwestern elementary schools does not look favorable for Holland citizens advocating it be placed in the village.

After a closed meeting Thursday night, a motion by Enoch Copeland, representing the Holy Neck borough, to place the school near the intersection of O’Kelly Drive and U.S. Route 58 failed by a 3-4 vote.

“We have looked at many, many, many sites of land,” said Diane Foster. “The vote last night was to go ahead and rule out the Holland portion.”

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Joining Copeland in voting for the land were Thelma Hinton of the Nansemond Borough and Lorriane Skeeter of the Cypress Borough.

“I made the motion because I thought it was the best place for the school,” Copeland said. “I’m very disappointed the motion failed. This parcel would have added so much to the village and be such an asset. We have everything there needed to provide good service to a school.”

Phyllis Byrum of the Whaleyville Borough, Diane Foster of Sleepy Hole Borough, William Whitley of Chuckatuck Borough and Michael Debranski of the Suffolk Borough voted against the Holland parcel.

Holland citizens heavily campaigned for the school at a public hearing on Dec. 10.

Those in favor of a Holland school said Holland has a strong community base for the school, the majority of students attending the school would be from the village, the school would have better visibility and it would not be on back roads which would pose many traffic hazards.

“The reason I stood by Mr. Copeland on this movement was because I supported the village concept,” Hinton said. “It was a good location. I feel as though both communities have truly been shortchanged.”

Whaleyville residents with children at Robertson, however, dissented. Four parents said they were concerned about a prolonged bus ride for their children and the difficulty for Whaleyville parents to attend functions and lend support if the school were located in Holland. They advocate a centrally located position.

“We’ve heard from people from both sides,” Whitley said. “You can understand where both sides are coming from, but when you only have money available for one school you’ve got to compromise somewhere. My whole philosophy on this is to be fair to both sides.”

Copeland said students from the heart of Whaleyville would not necessarily be going to the new school. The city of Suffolk will be re-zoned before the opening of the school and children will be assigned to different schools based on their distance. Whaleyville students could be rezoned to Kilby Shores, according to Copeland. Rezoning will ultimately depend on where the new school is placed.

After the failed motion on Thursday, the board agreed to start negotiations on another parcel of land, according to school officials. The location of the land has been concealed from the public due to negotiating reasons.