The Belleville Township Council has agreed to accept requests for proposals to develop a square block of property used for school storage at Cortland and Rutgers Streets.
The council agreed to accept proposals until Sept. 27 to redevelop the property.
There was a discussion whether the School No. 1 property could be used for new condominiums or apartments.
Councilman Michael Nicosia told concerned residents in May that the plan only allows residential housing as one possibility, and that it allows the council to negotiate for storage area and recreational space, among many possibilities, in any new development at the site.
Residents and township council members have clashed about whether to redevelop the land, to convert the property for use as recreation space or to repair the school and surrounding property for various school uses, including recreation.
In May, the council voted 7 to 0 to pass a redevelopment plan for the nearly one square city block of property.
Residents Vincent Frantantoni, David Harris and Phyllis Frantantoni said Tuesday night that the property should used for recreation.
“State officials have all said that these types of redevelopment just transfer tax dollars to developers, attorneys and consultants,” Vincent Frantantoni said Tuesday night. “This is a repairable building, just like Town Hall was.”
The plan allows for dense residential use, but council officials have been quick to point out the plan gives the governing body the greatest number of options for the property.
Several residents have also spoken of the need to retain the school property for possible use by the Board of Education, if the school population increases in the future.
The redevelopment plan would allow for more than 30 housing units, and residents complained that there would not be enough parking if the council agreed to allow residential housing.
Harris said, “There is nothing for kids to do after school and on the weekends. There are sports programs which are great and free, but there are not enough facilities for kids.”
Phyllis Frantantoni agreed, saying, “We should not give up space that we need for kids just to build more housing units.”
Vincent Frantantoni said again Tuesday that the School No. 1 building has been victimized by intentional neglect, has historical value and is needed for school storage.