New Site Approved for New Lebanon School Monday Night
After two rejected attempts, the Greenwich Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to approve site D for the location of the New Lebanon Elementary School at Monday night’s special meeting.
In hearings that spanned over the past few months, the Board of Selectmen voiced that they wanted site D to be presented to them for the Municipal Improvement proposal.
It was a fast process Monday night as they got what they wanted. The approved site will place a new school on the current school grounds after demolition of the existing building.
“Most in attendance can attest to the time frame in which this issue has been percolating, beginning with the Board of Education’s adoption of the educational specifications in January,” said First Selectman Peter Tesei. “This matter was before the Board of Estimate and Taxation and the RTM through the course of the budget process.”
Officials from the Greenwich EMS, Police Department and Fire Department gave their approval of the future elementary school to the board, expressing no concerns about the safety of the proposed site.
“The town has a plan for all of the schools in emergencies and we’re part of that planning,” said Charlee Tufts, Director of Greenwich Emergency Medical Services. “We are comfortable from an EMS point of view that we have easy access, easy egress and sometimes parking is difficult, but an ambulance can make it.”
Site, or scheme, D features front and back access, a new gymnasium with direct access to the existing field and safety plans from the Greenwich Police.
“The Police Department does not see any disadvantage or any major concerns with the current location and plan,” said Mark Marino, Deputy Chief of Greenwich Police. “We have worked very closely with the Board of Education for quite some time now in developing a security plan for all the schools and we’ll continue to do so.”
The construction of the new school will leave students without a permanent building and they may have to be relocated to modular classrooms at Western Middle School. Parents of New Lebanon students advocated for site B to keep the kids in the current building as construction would go on in the adjacent field.
Supporters of side D wanted to preserve the field, or “village green”, to keep the character of Byram.
Parents of New Lebanon students say that shouldn’t come in the way of their children’s education.
“I’ve never heard the field ever being called the village green,” said Byram resident and parent Marianela Diaz. “They started calling it that when they heard about the school. They’re fighting for a field they are not using unless it is to walk their dogs. But you know, it is what it is and now we just have to wait and see what they are going to do.”
The Board of Selectmen voted against site C and B before finally passing site D.
Discussion of a request of modular classrooms at Western Middle School were scratched from Monday’s agenda to allow ample time for a full presentation.
The proposed plan will now move on to the Planning and Zoning Commission.