With a self-imposed deadline looming, the Town Council by Thursday must decide what it will do next with the town’s school buildings.
The council is expected to vote Thursday on what could be the project's next stage – a school sites referral to the . With the P&Z's approval, the council would be on track for bond authorization and a November referendum.
In March, the council voted along party lines to send a to renovate the and build two new elementary schools - at locations yet to be determined – to a November 2012 referendum.
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To help assess school siting issues, the council was presented last week with conceptual reuse options for existing school sites that may no longer be used for a school per the council’s decision.
Potential long-term reuses for the buildings range from a shared senior and recreation center to municipal field complexes to single-family redevelopment.
Kevin Grunwald, Mansfield's human services director, said that while the is currently in an ideal location near the center of town, the center has outgrown its space.
“We are really bursting at the seams," Grunwald said. “If I had to decide right now, come down and say what would I prefer, it’s not ideal; but I would rather see us move into a shared use of one of the schools because I just think it’s more likely that it’s going to happen in a reasonable time frame.”
Curt Vincente, director of the , said additional space for the community center was also high in demand.
“I would probably say that outside of the seniors, we’re the next heaviest user of the senior center,” he said. “We do have some immediate needs, but we’re also looking at what our needs are going to be as a town in the future,” Vincente said, citing a need for fields and additional classroom space for community center programs.
Short-term suggestions include using the current schools for pre-school, afterschool and vacation camp programs.
“You’ve got some combination of potential reuses here,” Mansfield Town Manager Matthew Hart told the council May 31.
“We could use any of the three existing schools today for some period of time for parks and recreation and other municipal uses without having to make a substantial investment immediately. That would be an interim period to give us time to analyze the long-term uses of that property,” Hart said.
Thursday’s special meeting will be held in the council chambers of the Audrey P. Beck Municipal Building at a time yet to be determined.
Check back with Mansfield-Storrs Patch for updates.