School is expanding: Land purchase negotiations, stadium seating bids authorized

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:04

Westfall - Delaware Valley appears to be headed down on the farm, as the district board of education last week took its growth bull by the horns and authorized negotiations to purchase the 121-acre farm owned by the estate of Julio Santos. The farm, one of only two remaining in Pike County, is located on the three-lane portion of Route 6/209, just outside the Borough of Milford. The property includes land on both sides of the highway and stretches to the Delaware River on the east. Board Vice-President John Wroblewski, who chairs the board’s long-range planning committee made the motion to authorize the board’s attorney, Michael Weinstein to negotiate for the purchase, with a price to be agreed upon. No cost estimates were suggested, but the property is surrounded by commercial development. Wroblewski went on to propose that the purchase would be for the construction of “a building or buildings,” or to proceed with district goals. “This is the first step in what I expect to be a building project,” he added. He qualified his remarks by noting that the district must still await the results of survey work by a demographics firm, that the district contracted in October. The consultant is to estimate areas of likely growth. Wroblewski also said that the state education department must approve a demonstrated need. “This is no spending spree,” he said. Most of the board was very supportive. Bell Hodges Smith called the decision “a great step forward.” Jack Fisher said he was proud of the board’s work in coming to the decision. Board President Sue Casey thanked outgoing board member Denise DeGraw Fey, who operates her own real estate firm, saying that DeGraw Fey had worked very hard in her last week in office preparing for the vote. As to the property, Casey said “its best use is to be decided. We’ve agreed to have elementary schools in all areas and one high school. Those are the cornerstones.” DeGraw Fey said the decision was very exciting, but advised that the board “proceed with caution.” The vote was 7-0, with James Mooney absent and Pamela Lutfy abstaining. Lutfy declined to detail the reasons for her abstention. In a separate action, despite some public opposition, the board agreed to seek bids to build new stadium seating opposite the existing stands. Only Casey and Lutfy opposed the decision. Resident and former board candidate Rebecca Corless said the idea was “ridiculous. You’re so focused on football, but we’ve got college kids going off without the remediation they need.” Wroblewski replied that he knew of no instance when the board had refused to provide needed programs. Casey said the motion is to go out to bid. “Before any decision is made, we’ll have to see where the money is coming from.”