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.