BOE wants to buy property for future use

By LISA CAPOBIANCO
STAFF WRITER
The school board voted to approve a recommendation to the city to buy a 6.6-acre property adjacent to Hubbell School.
During a meeting held last Wednesday, the Bristol Board of Education voted 6 to 1 in approval of the recommendation to buy 54 West Washington St. in Forestville with the goal of potentially using the property for school uses in the future.
According to the city assessor’s website, the property, once owned by Jean Bradley, is a Cape Cod style, single-family home that was built in 1915. The house features a garage and two sheds, as well as a milk barn.
Although last year’s assessment of the property was $237,800, a new appraisal will be conducted again.
In December, the operation committee voted to approve the recommendation to the school board.
Deputy Superintendent Susan Moreau said, in the past, Bristol had land available to purchase next to schools that the school board did not take advantage of. Moreau added there now is little left in Bristol to take advantage of another opportunity. The recommendation would be referred to the Board of Finance.
School Board Chairman Larry Amara noted the possibility of growth for Hubbell School if the property is acquired.
“If it does happen, that’s probably a school we can add on to, make it a K-8 school,” said Amara. “It’s not unreasonable to purchase some property in lieu of what could happen in the future.”
During the discussion, Henri Martin, the City Council’s liaison of the school board, said he was confused about the board’s decision to buy the piece of property when it previously voted to sell other properties near schools.
Amara said property adjacent to Stafford School was recently sold, but it was a piece of property that “was not usable for the school.”
“This piece of property is very conducive to doing something for the school,” said Amara, adding the property could benefit the addition of a particular school.
School board commissioner Jill Fitzgerald voted against the recommendation, noting concern about not having a specific plan in place for future use of the property.
“I personally have a difficult time of asking them to make a purchase of something that we don’t have a plan for,” said Fitzgerald. “We really need to get a plan together.”
School Board Vice Chairman Genard Dolan, said the purchase of 54 West Washington St. should be considered as an investment, as the price of land will constantly increase, and Hubbell School could need the property, considering it is one of the oldest schools in Bristol.
“The opportunity to buy this property came up—we didn’t have any specific plan for this property, but the opportunity presented itself,” said Dolan. “We have to be aware of any opportunity that comes along.”