Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Handwriting May Be On The Wall For The Jones School Building And The North End

Last night I sat in on Metro Council's Education Committee meeting Downtown in the Council Chambers (no one else but a handful of district administrators was present in the peanut gallery). I actually attended by accident; as a member of Salemtown's Citizen Advisory Committee for MDHA, I had been invited to attend a Council Grant Committee meeting in Council Chambers, but it had been moved somewhere else (a fact I did not realize until I had to leave for another meeting). So, I ended up sticking around for about an hour to see how the School Board and the Metro Council would interface.

There are so many details to write about, but I want to zero in on one that affects the North End more immediately for the present: Vice Chair Kathy Nevill told the committee members that the school district does not have an interest in allowing closed schools to sit empty. She said that their interest was in "re-purposing" the buildings, by which she meant that they would be made available for other government services or they would be sold to private interests. It seems to me that while we may not have to worry that MNPS will be negligent neighbors, we do have to be concerned that we will see either more social services dumped into urban neighborhood school buildings or we will see the total loss of public control of historic buildings like the Jones School to developers not even bound by a strict historic or conservation overlay to the properties in question. The Jones School property has relatively lax "R6" zoning.

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