The Mansfield Town Council voted Wednesday to send its to renovate the and build two new elementary schools - at locations yet to be determined – to a November 2012 referendum.
The council is expected to make a decision as to the schools’ locations before the November 6 referendum.
Council members Denise Keane and Meredith Lindsey opposed the proposal.
Councilman Chris Paulhaus was absent for the vote.
Given the community’s feedback at , a majority of council members believed a May referendum was too soon.
“I was most struck two nights ago by the diversity of opinion,” Councilman William Ryan said. “It was clear that there was not anything close to unanimity on where we should go,” he said.
Keane and Lindsey agreed and suggested that the Town conduct a straw poll before the referendum.
The council ultimately decided against a straw poll, citing its need to make the decision as to what to bring to referendum.
“There has been an enormous amount of public participation,” Councilman Paul Shapiro said. “I think that this is the body that was elected to bite the bullet and make the decision,” he said. “People can continue to contact us, …but I am absolutely in favor of this body making the decision, and if there are consequences, we have to be willing to pay,” he said.
Mayor Elizabeth Paterson added that plans for the proposed project would still be discussed with residents.
“I think that the most important thing for us to do as a council, is to keep this issue out in front of the public, to analyze data as we get it back as we have done all along and to continue the discussion, and if it doesn’t pass in November then we have to look at what our alternatives are,” Paterson said.
Prior to the November referendum, staff is expected to provide the council with costs associated with the use of as a building site, including, but not limited to land acquisition fees and the possible need for a new septic system at Goodwin.
The council also authorized Wednesday the expenditure of funds - not to exceed $40,000 - for appropriate testing of the septic systems at the current Goodwin and elementary schools to determine their adequacy.
Keane and Lindsey opposed the motion.
Councilman Carl Schaefer abstained.
Paulhaus was absent for the vote.
Following Wednesday’s meeting, School Board Chairman Mark LaPlaca said that while he didn’t disagree with the council’s decision, he “certainly felt that we could have gotten to this point two years ago when the board officially made its recommendation,” he said.
“But I’m pleased that we’re moving forward,” LaPlaca added.