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Morristown Board of Education reverses decision on proposed village garage

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MORRISTOWN – The Morristown Board of Education is having second thoughts after giving the village the green light to build a new garage on an empty lot adjacent to the school.

While the village owns the plot at the intersection of Northumberland and Gouverneur Streets the village trustees had sought the approval of the board of education to ensure they did not disrupt classes with activity at the location. The board told the village they had no objections in March.

The village currently operates a smaller garage on another small plot next to the school.

But at Tuesday’s board meeting members expressed concern that the project may be more disruptive than they initially imagined and proposed meeting with the village to discuss swapping land with them.

“I just think it’s a bad spot,” Board President Cyril Aldrich Jr. said, noting the proximity to classroom.

Superintendent David J. Glover said the wing closest to the proposed garage is where the school educates children in fifth and sixth grade.

Board Member Mary Anne Bailey said she felt those children may be especially distracted by the activities going on at a village garage. Safety concerns were also discussed.

“It’s a mini-truck stop,” Board Member Mark Taylor said, adding that fuel tanks and large machinery coming and going could present a danger to kids on their way to and from school.

Instead of the plot directly next to the school the board of education is going to look into trading land with the village.

Behind the school, near the intersection of Columbia Street and High Street, is an empty lot that formerly held a playground.

“Is there anyway if we have that… they could build a barn there instead of right next to our classrooms?” Mr. Aldrich asked.

The board will be discussing the concept with the village over the next several weeks.

Board Member Shawn Macaulay said there may be issues with the lot behind the school due to the potential difficulty and environmental hazards presented by installing new water and sewer connections.

But Mr. Taylor said it should be an easy decision, noting that the lot behind the school, which is roughly four acres, is much larger than the half-acre plot the village is currently considering building on.

The proposed village garage would be larger than the current one which can barely fit a front-end loader inside. No timeline for building has been proposed for the project.

“It’s all about safety for the kids,” Mr. Glover said. “If there’s a way to mutually make that happen, that’s great.”

Mr. Glover also said the school could use the smaller property, thanks to its proximity to the building, in the future, possibly as a parking lot.

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