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Story - Education

Mar 30, 2010 7:31 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton School bus depot bond rejected

Mar 30, 2010 7:31 PM

Voters in the East Hampton School District on Wednesday, March 24, overwhelmingly defeated a referendum that would have allowed the district to borrow $4 million to purchase property and redevelop it as a bus depot by a 630 to 83 vote margin.

The school district had proposed buying the former Verizon property on King Street in East Hampton Village and renovating the building on the site as a center for its transportation operations.

Since the School Board proposed the purchase in November, opposition to the plan has grown. Opponents cited the poor economy and the possibility that the district had not adequately explored all its options as reasons for voting against the measure. They argued that the district could have tried to renegotiate its lease with the Schaefer family, which owns the Route 114 property where the district’s buses are currently kept, or use district-owned property on Cedar Street for a bus facility.

The district has said that the district’s transportation needs have 
outgrown the facilities available on the Route 114 lot and that the Cedar Street property would require an estimated $3.5 million in renovations to be used as a bus depot.

Superintendent Raymond Gualtieri has said that renovating the Cedar Street property would be the district’s back-up plan if the referendum were defeated.

David Cheney, a district bus driver who also worked for the Schaefer family before the district took over its transportation operations, said he was not only against the proposed purchase—and voted that way—but against holding the vote at all.

“I really think that when the district had the opportunity in December to cancel the vote they should have done it,” he said. “It was obvious to the School Board and the public that it was not going to pass, so it was a big waste of money to go forward with it.”

Mr. Cheney said that when he voted at the Middle School on Wednesday he noticed a large number of senior citizens voting, and he spoke to many who were still upset that the district decided to hold the vote at the middle school, where there is less parking available than at the high school.

“I think a lot of people were voicing their disapproval for the referendum and also at the School Board for holding the vote there,” he said.

At a Group for Good Government forum on the bus depot in early 
March, Mr. Cheney was the only bus driver to speak out against the King Street purchase. Other drivers have said they were in favor of the purchase, but Mr. Cheney pointed out that the majority of bus drivers do not pay taxes in the district.

Mr. Cheney said he hopes the School Board will take this opportunity to renegotiate a lease with the Schaefer family and take the time to consider what would be the best plan of action for the Cedar Street property.

“This was kind of a rushed judgement and pressure was put on it from the beginning,” he said. “Saner heads will prevail if we have the time to analyze properly the best site and type of building for this operation.”

He said the outcome of the vote shows that the community is taking an active interest in the school district and how it is spending taxpayers’ money.

“The overwhelming vote represents the real, true feeling of the people in East Hampton that they really want to ensure that their investment up on Long Lane is used properly,” he said.

Dr. Gualtieri could not be reached for comment following the vote.

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So glad this did not pass. There has to be a better way than plopping down a bus depot in the village at a cost of over 4 mil
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Mar 25, 10 2:12 PM
they could park the over flowing buses at cedar street with out spending 3.5 million they were parked there before.then they would have much more room at the present location.
By asurest (117), easthampton on Mar 25, 10 6:11 PM
Cant wait to hear what the Cedar St "back-up plan" is going to cost.
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Mar 25, 10 8:30 PM
Spend, spend, spend!
By BruceB (142), Sag Harbor on Mar 25, 10 11:42 PM
They're spending millions on the remodeling of the high school, including a massive new parking lot.
Let them park the buses there.
By bailey (52), East Hampton on Mar 26, 10 9:18 AM
2 members liked this comment
Anybody clueless enough to think this would fly with taxpayers ought not to be a school superintendent or on the school board. It's time for some changes.
By we could run this town! (129), wonderful Wainscott on Mar 29, 10 7:47 AM
All the feeder districts are proposing property tax increases this year,not the East Hampton District. How about some representation with all this TAXATION!!!!
By montaukman (98), easthampton on Mar 31, 10 8:48 PM