School seems like development ploy

Published 10:24 pm Monday, April 9, 2012

To the editor:

The City of Suffolk’s intentions to build a large two story elementary school between Route 58 and the railroad tracks is a safety hazard for the children and seems to be more of a ploy by some officials to push development in the designated Rural Agricultural Conservation Area.

Expensive road improvements to add a traffic light and extend east and west bound turn lanes off of Route 58 onto Pioneer Road may reduce the safety hazards, but the tremendous increase in traffic as the new warehousing area continues to be developed four miles east of the proposed school site will most likely increase the number and severity of accidents in the future.

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Security fencing needed to protect the children from the hazards associated with the railroad tracks, and the proposed water tower, along with the isolation from the village, will make this large two-story facility look more like a prison than an elementary school.

If this weren’t a land-grabbing ploy, then why would the Planning Commission approve a site that was not even under a purchase contract and had no fixed price? Why approve a site that was contrary to the 2026 Comprehensive Plan that recommended elementary schools be smaller and fit within the rural villages as centers and anchors of the community?

Schools provide potential customers to support numerous business prospects and allow physical linkages to surrounding areas. Facility siting and planning was supposed to allow broad community involvement, but the appointed site selection committee and school officials selected and proposed the site.

Since we do not elect school officials, members of the site selection committee or the Planning Commissioners, these people do not truly represent the affected community. Why approve a parcel of land that the state soil survey indicates is unfavorable for conventional septic systems and even with major soil reclamation, special design or expensive installation procedures will most likely yield poor performance and high maintenance costs?

Possible building sites around the village of Holland such as off of Glen Haven may have been considered, but the planning committee will not identity the sites that were considered and why they were disqualified. Why such secrecy unless there are some hidden real estate development issues being planned?

With all the costs of building the school off Route 58, how much of the approved $17.5 million will actually be used for the school? Don’t be surprised when the School Board comes back halfway through construction and asks for more taxpayer money to complete the project.

Roxanne Francis

Suffolk