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School Site Approved for Redevelopment

Handful of residents oppose move, Council passes 7-0

A major step was taken Tuesday night to change the fate of the long underutilized School  No. 1 property.

The Belleville Township Council voted 7 to 0 to pass a redevelopment plan for the nearly one-square city block of property at Rutgers and Cortlandt streets that has been the subject of controversy for decades.

The plan allows for dense residential use, but council officials were quick to point out the plan gives the governing body the greatest number of options for the property.

Several residents spoke of the need to retain the school property for possible use by the Board of Education, while one resident spoke in favor of moving forward.

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.

Councilman Michael Nicosia told concerned residents 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.

Resident Georgann Polite-Hill was the one resident to speak in favor of the plan. She said, “I suggest  we move forward. This has been an eyesore.”

She said that she never has a problem finding parking on Stephens Street, which is near the site.

Longtime township critic and council candidate Vincent Frantantoni said the building has been victimized by intentional neglect, has historical value and is needed for school storage.

elynch March 14, 2012 at 11:03 AM
Here we go again more housing.With all the housing development on Franklin Ave why have my taxes gone up. Schools are over crowed already, in a few more years, as all the new children enter schools it's going to be disastrous. I have yet to see one positive growth in Belleville. Some one is benefiting but it is not the residence.
Nelson Barrera March 14, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Good morning I disagree with yet another housing development. We have enough housing in Belleville as far as I can tell, yet there is a need for school and recreational enhancement. This property would serve well as a boys and girls club, similar to the YMCA, providing after school programs, birthday party facilities and summer programs. Allowing Belleville residents to utilize Belleville facilities, versus going to Montclair, Newark or Clifton for summer camp programs, party facilities, specially pool parties which the Y and the Boys and Girls Club of Clifton offer.
sadie towey March 14, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Please don't knock down school no.one. As a child I attended the school from the first grade to the sixth. I have so many great memories of my years there and enjoy seeing it when I pass by. School no.one will always be a historical site in belleville.
elynch March 14, 2012 at 11:02 PM
I agree...all great suggestions
Olga Swan March 15, 2012 at 12:44 AM
I agree with 100% with Barrera facilities should be built in order to drum up revenue for town rather than having to go to other towns and help them fund their revenue because we don't have adequate choices for our children.
Vinnie Frantantoni March 15, 2012 at 03:11 AM
The 7-0 vote by the Township Council to eliminate School # 1 is further proof that the Township Council and the Belleville BOE apparently are run by outside forces. Why else would they dispose of a school & the entire city block it sits on while our student population is increasing. To the scores of residents who have contacted or spoken to me over the past few years, including local educators and businessmen, about the need to save School #1, shame on you. Your FAILURE to speak up at the public hearings will continue the rapid decline in Belleville. I'm tired of the excuses, such as "they will hurt my business", "my relative works in the school system", they will raise my taxes", and the BEST one, " I don't know what to say." Yet, they will stop me on the street or call me and rattle on for 20 or 30 minutes without taking a breath. Remember that famous quote, "All it takes for evil to triumph, is for good people to do nothing!"
Nelson Barrera March 15, 2012 at 12:47 PM
If School #1 means that it was the first school in Belleville, could this not be declared a historical site? maybe eligible from some grant program that would allow the preservation for schooling purposes or again for a Recreational Facility that would generate revenue to Belleville?? Parents use the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club in Cliton and back in the day also popular was the Spa gym in Paramus Mall, for Birthday parties, why not have such facilities within our beloved Belleville?
JENNY CABAN March 15, 2012 at 01:22 PM
People just don't understand that if we try to fix school #1 will be a damage for our households do u people know that fix that school will costs a lot of money? And who's gonna pay for that in the end?? US with our taxes!! And do a boys and girls or YMCA we will pay for it too! !! That school been close for years is old, it will not easy doing something and will be cost MONEY .. is time to think what is the best for our town with out damage Us as a tax payers ...
Kenneth W. Smith June 20, 2013 at 05:22 AM
When I visit my old home town of Belleville it saddens me to see the diminished charm of what once was a beautiful town. Branch brook Park paths are impassable due to fallen trees and eroded paths,very few small family businesses around,Garbage ankle deep in the park,and now the selling off of public property to private developers,why not use the school for the use of the residents,it belongs to them,The valley of Belleville is very Historic.It should be enjoyed somehow by the current tax-payers living there,a playground,training center,arts center or even a museum and science center.If sold off the residents will never see a dime of what was taken from them.Politics have always short-changed the nostalgia of this historically rich section of town. Kenneth Smith

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