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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Critics of Newton North High plan want more citywide input

NEWTON

NNHS Site Plan0001.jpg

Opponents of the current site plan for a new Newton North High School want a citywide vote to determine what the building should look like, how much it should cost, and how to pay for it.

The opponents voiced their view this week after apparently collecting enough signatures from voters to force aldermen to reconsider their approval of the plan, which outlines how the new buildings and fields would be placed on the existing site.

If the aldermen do not reconsider their vote, a citywide referendum would then be held where citizens could vote to overturn or endorse the site plan. But opponents of the current $140 million to $165 million plan say they want residents to be able to express their desires in more detail, rather than simply voting "yes" or "no" on the current site plan.

“Before the city embarks on the most expensive project we’ve ever undertaken, I think we should vote about what we want,” said Laura Naylor of Citizens for a Better Newton North, which participated in the signature drive.

Whether the idea will fly is up to aldermen. Their vote on whether to reconsider their approval of the site plan could come as early as this Tuesday, board president Lisle Baker said.

Ward 6 Alderman-at-Large Kenneth Parker said he would back a referendum that allowed voters to state their preferences among several options. Parker said he does not believe a majority of his colleagues would support the idea, however.

“I’m not sure that’s going to get a lot of traction,” Parker said.

-- Connie Paige

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