Tuesday, February 15, 2011 • 11:26 AM Comments (6)

Another Go for Forest Park Middle School

posted by Maureen Turner

This evening, the City Council will again take up a vote that would move forward long-in-the-works plans to expand and renovate the Forest Park Middle School.

The Council was supposed to vote on the matter at its meeting last Monday. But that vote was postponed by a controversial decision by Amaad Rivera, the newly sworn-in Ward 6 councilor, to invoke “Rule 20,” a measure that allows any single councilor to put off a vote until a financial report on the matter is produced. The project will necessitate the city taking several nearby properties by eminent domain, and Rivera has expressed concern that the owners of those properties will not receive fair compensation. He’s also charged that there haven’t been enough public meetings on the issue.

Rivera’s move caused an uproar in Forest Park, where many residents have been anxious for the $43.4 million school project to proceed, and in City Hall, where officials warned that a delay could cause the city to miss out on a 90 percent cost reimbursement from the state.

Adding fuel to the fire, Rivera did not appear at the annual meeting of the Forest Park Civic Association on Sunday, where the middle school project was the hot topic. Rivera, who had originally been expected to attend, reportedly had a commitment in Boston and instead sent a representative to the civic association meeting in his stead—a move that didn’t sit well with many who attended the meeting.

Rivera took office last month after the mid-term resignation of Keith Wright, who beat Rivera for the Ward 6 seat in the 2009 election. Rivera’s entry to the Council was marked by challenges to his residency. (In the end, the city’s Election Commission ruled that he does, indeed, live in the ward.) Already there have been rumblings from some unhappy constituents of an election recall effort; more likely than a recall—which can be a cumbersome and lengthy process—however, is the likelihood that critics of the new councilor will find an opposing candidate to back in this fall’s election.

But first things first: this evening, the councilors will again take up the middle school project, at a special meeting where they will vote on the land-takings and financial allocations. The meeting takes place today, Feb. 15, at 5 p.m. at City Hall.

Comments (6)
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I expect a 10 min. lecture from Rivera on the voters bad behavior before the vote.

Posted by aaron on 2.15.11 at 14:25

No he'll blame the media for reporting on this whole thing at all, or at least not doing so that told his side of the story.

Posted by Matt S on 2.15.11 at 14:28
Amaad emailed his side of the tale. His numbers, though - what properties were assessed for and what the city is offering - seem off, at least from what the City assessor's numbers are on the muni website. Those numbers (the city's)appear to be from the beginning of last year, and appear to show everyone getting a fair shake (except for the Sam's property, if Amaad's figure on the city's offer is correct). Still, I believe the offers can be adjusted during the process. In any event, it doesn't appear to be any kind of conspiracy or scam. I don't like the idea of eminent domain land takings myself. But the ship's already reached the shore on this voyage, so it's a little late be tossing an anchor over the side to stop it.
Posted by Bill Dusty on 2.15.11 at 18:18

Very odd...it seems Rivera's mother had a camcorder going throughout the city council meeting.

Posted by aaron on 2.16.11 at 15:26

After looking over everything and mulling over motivations and the like, I've determined that this is pretty much all about politics - and in particular, election year politics. This matter could have been addressed a couple months ago and in a less dramatic fashion, but it wouldn't have been nearly as newsworthy.

Posted by Bill Dusty on 2.17.11 at 7:41

Totally true. I can personally attest to the newsworthiness of this whole ordeal.

There remain legitimate concerns about those very politics behind the scenes. Whether it is Rivera's heavy Boston versus any local support or the suspicious demands for recall that predating Rivera's swearing in.

If Rivera runs for election though, one thing is for sure, this race will get ugly.

Posted by Matt S on 2.17.11 at 10:55
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