Last Update for this page:  07/13/2012 06:05:28 PM

 Kohrt Repohrt

 

School Committee Committed to Driving Fruit Street Process

"To be honest, strategically, we have been a little bit quiet." David Stoldt, Chairman
 

by Kevin Kohrt

 

Last week the school committee received an overview of the meeting hosted by the Regional Director and the Fruit Street Project Analyst from the MEPA (Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office) office, and attended by at least nine representatives from Hopkinton invited by the Selectmen.  The meeting was arranged and attended by Representative Paul Loscocco, and also attended by Senator Karen Spilka. An additional report from the Selectmen who attended is expected their meeting tonight, but a preview as well as a school-centric perspective can be seen in the School Committee discussion.

 

"It was very clear that there is a path that can be pursued with the state that would very likely bring an approved SSEIR (Supplemental Single Environmental Impact Report)," reported School Committee Chairman David Stoldt, who had attended the MEPA meeting. He also identified what appears to have been the critical misunderstanding for many about the MEPA approval process and the role of alternative site design plans which were cited as insufficient both times the state declined to approve the Fruit Street Master Plan SSEIR. "It is very clear that the request for an additional alternative doesn't preclude the town's ability to  proceed with its preferred alternative if an SSEIR is approved, and that was an important understanding that I think we all had to get." Or, clarified Mr. Stoldt, "The state does not pick your alternative, and say 'okay, that is what we're approving and not approving this'; the state approves your submittal."

 

Mr. Stoldt also reported that the school committee ideas he brought to the meeting, such as splitting off the school from the rest of the Fruit Street project and pursuing it separately, were shown to have more problems than advantages. "Continuing with the current path is probably the most expedient path, even though its not fast enough for our tastes," he concluded.


At this point board member Phil Totino suggested that perhaps more could be done. "We as a school committee need to be more vocal and more assertive, sticking up for what we need and when we need it," he pointed out. "We have to make something happen."


Mr. Stoldt agreed, admitting, "To be honest, strategically, we have been a little bit quiet."

 

Mr. Totino then suggested the school committee use whatever leverage it may have, predicting "I am sure there is going to be some cost for the additional work, and I'm sure I wouldn't be making a wild guess that the Fruit Street Development Committee would be looking to this committee to support some of that cost. So if we're going to do that, we've got to be crystal clear and have a very high level of confidence about the path that we would be asked to support."

 

Again Mr. Stoldt agreed. "I think we're not the deep pocket unless we see there is a clear end and a clear date; and a clear commitment to that being it--because we should not be spending money on a never-ending path."


How this will play out should be made clear this week, with the Selectmen discussing Fruit Street at their meeting, and the entire Fruit Street Development Committee meeting on Thursday night.

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