New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

Commentary

CREC School Not a Boost to City

It seems like all the news coming out about the City was bad this week. Although Mayor Tim O’Brien’s office attempted to present them in a good light most residents have reasons to be disappointed.

Last week O’Brien stated that something new was coming into the former Shaw’s Supermarket site. Visions of a Christmas Tree Shop, Best Buy or even a Price Chopper bounced through residents’ heads. Finally a prime spot in our City would be full with business.

But alas, it is a Capitol Region Education Council Magnet School. Schools in general are not bad things, but having one here is a let down.

New Britain does not have a shopping strip on the Berlin Turnpike like Newington does. It does not have a vibrant center like West Hartford.

Instead we have Broad St., and West Main St. Those are the prime properties for businesses. To lose one of those to a school is a bit like Christmas morning without a Christmas tree.

New Britain does get tax money on the property. But, we have received it even as the building remained empty. We are not making a dime by having the school in this location. But what happens, if in four years, CREC buys the property? Not only do we lose tax money as it is not taxable, but we also lose another of our dwindling prime retail spaces.

New Britain needs to thrive with business if it is going to make a rebound. We need to have a place for people to go and businesses to hire our residents. This is not a start to that comeback we all desire. In fact, it does not help our City at all.

It will not change our overcrowded schools. We may get 50-100 New Britain youth in the new school. And that will actually cost us money, because we lose money for sending City students there. Instead of money ($11-$14,000 a student) going towards our own schools, those funds go to the state.

Another state magnet school is presently being built off of Slater Road. It isn’t the ideal project for that site either. But, at least it is in a residential neighborhood and not a prime piece of real estate in one of our few business strips.

To make matters worse this week Moody’s downgraded our bonds. That means we pay a higher interest rate for borrowing funds. Why did this happen? Mostly, because Mr. O’Brien has been using money from the water department to pay the City’s bills. He has instead used our taxpayer money not for bills, but to hire his friends at PR firms.

How long will residents stand back and watch this City continue to fail? Isn’t it time to say we’ve had enough. Demand more. We deserve it.