While the Facility Committee of the New Hope-Solebury School District discussed several items at their meeting Tuesday night, including updates on Field 13, the UES outdoor ‘pavilion’ learning center, and a potential parking space lease with the owners of the proposed Odette’s boutique conference center, the center ring was clearly occupied by an attempt to reach a recommendation on the “level of campus revitalization project.”
At stake is a multiyear, multimillion dollar overhaul of the School District’s main campus on West Bridge Street that would address student needs, repair and conserve existing infrastructure, and initiate construction of other sections that will improve the functioning and security of the UES, Middle School and High School. Most everyone agrees that improved maintenance and security are desirable.
But the direction, cost and scope of the project has been the subject of heated debate for some time, with several school board members clearly setting their long-term sights on NH-S moving up in state academic rankings, others wanting to prioritize updating the school system’s sports facilities to ease what they perceive as congestion, shortage of fields, and gender-based access equality concerns, and a vocal group asking what all the construction is about and what it will cost the taxpayers.
In the end, the Committee, with Chair Jonathan Adar keeping a firm hand at the helm, narrowed possible revitalization recommendations from three to two.
Said audience member and New Hope resident Mel Brand, “A lot of this building is basically going to Solebury Township — the head of parks and recreation wants space, and it’s going to be for their stuff after school, that’s what it is.”
“Our first priority is to take care of the students; recreational should be whatever is left,” said Ed Duffy, former New Hope Borough Council Member.
Believe it not, after the March 25th meeting,the April 29th facilities meeting was cancelled followed by the May 27th meeting being rescheduled for June 10th. Do the math. two and one half months between meetings for a district that supposedly wants to push forward on needed renovations, upgrades and new construction. Why the cancellation? Here’s an email sent to me by Supt. Boccuti on May 12. ” Mr. Adar rescheduled the Facilities Committee meeting with plenty of advanced noticed to assist a committee member who had a conflict with the original date.”Apparently Supt. Bocutti is not aware that as long as there is a quorum,the meeting can take place and should take place. The real reason for the cancellations is that Mr.Adar wants to avoid being filmed verbally sparing with me or any one else that brings the truth into the ring.Unlike the committee meetings, the school board meetings protect the board members, because they are not compelled to respond to the members of the public.
Out of Balance- Out of Wack
While the district allows the use of its gyms to be used by outside groups made up mostly of our students until 9 PM in the evenings and on weekends,its high school library( the large group instructional facility that Mr. Adar says does not exist) closes every day at 4 PM and is not open on weekends.
You call them “legitimate concerns”, I call it obstructionism. His constant barrage costs the school board valuable time and resources that could be better spent dealing with “entanglements”. Mr. Band is a carnival barker that speaks only for himself and many well informed citizens in the community are tired of it. Let me tell you one fact: many people avoid the district meetings because of Mel Band and his penchant for making the meetings uncomfortable and contentious. The assumption that people don’t show up because they don’t care isn’t always correct.
I know several residents who don’t attend district meetings for fear of intimidation or “payback” or reprisal by Board members or jeers from the audience if they dare to walk up to the podium and publicly state their case.n
I’ve also witnessed the vitriol, bullying and rudeness of angry parents at some public meetings. Talk about intimidating!
Limiting public participation to a few minutes per person seems pretty reasonable to me. If Mr.Band were to ignore the time limit, that would be a different story. If he abides by the rules, he has a right to be heard when it’s his turn to speak.
And maybe taking some time to hear more points of view on some of these expensive proposals would do us all good, since the decisions made now affect our community for decades to come.
Since when is stating one’s legitimate concerns about School Board decisions “harassment”? Mel Band has every right to speak, whether you agree with him or not. As with all public comment, his remarks are limited by the committee chairperson or the School Board president. And Mel abides by that.
If previous school boards had been challenged more, if more people had shown up at meetings rather than “assume” that responsible decision were being made under their noses, we wouldn’t have some of the entanglements we do now.
It’s fine to dream about the possibilities of developing the rest of the 86 acre property – but there is more than just the building of that space: there is maintenance/replacement costs, rental issues (if we lease to other teams or organizations), extra parking required to meet the new needs of the new fields/stadiums, and as a result: less permeable ground – which is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.
All votes and actions have consequences. It’s important that ALL of us, whether we have children in this school district or not, READ MORE, ask questions, and make their voices heard.
That’s not “obstructionist.” That’s what each and every citizen has the right to do, and SHOULD be doing.
Let it be said that Mr. Adar nor any one else presented any evidence that the high schoolwas in dire need of a large instructional facility and exactly what it would be used for. It’s the old believe what we(the district say,not what you see routine)which is alive and well in this district.
Someone in the community needs to start documenting Mel Bands harassment of the School board and investigate whether it is feasible to obtain a restraining order against him. His non stop harassment crosses the line, slows the board down and prevents progress. His non stop blathering is hurting the community and it needs to stop.
Remember this date: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 6:30PM at the New Hope Sole,bury District Office for the next Facilities Committee Meeting where your voice can be heard.
Continuing, let it be said that because the district has decided to have two gym classes at the same time in the high school and the middle school, which doesn’t have to be each of the two gyms is empty 50% of the time which would also be the case if a new high school gym were built.By the way, while the architect stated that the price was between 11-14 million and that the cost per square foot was about $200, this would mean that the size of the gym would be between 55,000 and 70,000 square feet. For crying out loud, that’s larger than a football field!!! Do we get a retractable roof too? The fact is if the new building would be a state of the art science lab building, then the district would get my attention. But alas, it appears that the recreational needs of groups of students during NON school hours takes priority over instructional needs. Finally let it be pointed out that while there are just 900 middle school and high school kids in the district, there are 12 fields with another on the way with its chief cheerleader, Supt Boccuti, touting his opinion (AND I KID YOU NOT) that this district needs 12 MORE fields to satisfy its needs for a total of 24.
Continuing my last post, Mr. Adar, instead of conceding that the present high school gym CAN hold 800, started talking about the need for a large group instructional facility.When he mentioned that the size of the middle school gym was not an issue, it was because I blew the whistle on the size of the gym which the architect stated was 5200 square feet WITHOUT presenting any documentation to that effect. Yet on the other hand, I presented a document I received from the district under the Right to Know Law that stated the square footage was 6400 square feet!!! blowing the architect’s argument that the gym was “VERY SMALL” right out of the water. Hence, along comes the instructional facility argument.
To fully understand and appreciate the scheme being marketed by the New Hope Solebury School District officials,involving the building of a needless 11-14 million dollar gymnasium to be paid by taxpayers(nothing is for free),you need the following vital information. to sell the community on the need for a 800 seat gym, architect Kevin Godshall stated that if it rained on high school Graduation Day, he insinuated that the present gym ( with 400 seats) would not be able to hold 800 people- 125 graduates plus six tickets for each. Notice how Mr. Adar was UNABLE to rebut this argument on the video tape, but deflected it by talkingabout
Mel Band and his merry band of obstructionists need to knock it off. The time for talking about these updates is past and now it’s time for the School Board to actually do something.
Who are you lumping together in this “merry band of obstructionists?” People who say hello to him? People who sit next to him or near him? Guilt by proximity?