New London seeking new parking spot for school buses

New London - Thirty-seven diesel school buses that are parked in a vacant lot at Fort Trumbull could be relocated to the parking lot at New London High School.

But school officials don't want the buses at the school and say the move could cause problems.

Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said Friday that Erwin Stillman, developer of Village on Thames, a 103-unit housing project scheduled to break ground later this spring, wanted the buses moved because they are parked at the entrance to the future housing development.

"The elder Mr. Stillman has issues with the buses - the appearance as you approach the project,'' Finizio said. The city has been working with the Board of Education, he said, to find an alternative parking place for the buses.

The school board is expected to vote on a plan to relocate the buses to the high school at its meeting Wednesday. The board will meet at 7 p.m. at the Science & Technology Magnet High School.

School Building & Maintenance Committee members approved the relocation earlier this month in an 8-1 vote, according to minutes of the March 15 meeting. Superintendent Nicholas A. Fischer voted against it.

Committee members who voted for the move are City Councilor Marie Friess-McSparran and Council President Michael Passero; Board of Education Chairman Margaret Curtin; Director of Public Works Tim Hanser; City Building Official Kurt Kripas; Director of Finance Jeffrey Smith; and city residents Martha Bauduccio and Kenric Hanson.

Committee members had tabled the vote twice from meetings on Jan. 18 and Feb. 15.

At the March 15 meeting, Fischer cited a report done by the Capitol Region Education Council that highlighted potential issues associated with bringing the buses to the high school, including diesel fumes, traffic flow and parking, vandalism, security, lighting, driver behavior, trash, stormwater runoff and the need for a break room or office for the bus company.

He said loud alarms that sound if drivers do not adequately check their buses could disrupt classrooms located near the parking lot, and drivers who smoke and bring their children to work with them could pose liability issues.

The CREC report was dismissed by Passero, who said it "did not have any insurmountable issues." He said the city looked into moving the buses to Groton but there was no room. The committee also considered using the parking lot at Ocean Beach Park but rejected the idea because of potential noise in the residential neighborhood.

Fischer said when the buses were parked at the high school years ago, they were vandalized and homeless people were found sleeping and urinating in them.

New London High School Principal William "Tommy" Thompson told the committee that he and magnet school director Louis Allen also are concerned that the buses eliminate a number of available parking spaces used for after-school and sporting events.

Parking is already limited, and some drivers are forced to park on the lawn or on side streets, Thompson said.

He also said there is no available space inside the school for a break room or office. When the buses were parked at the high school, the Science & Technology Magnet High School did not exist, he said.

Day Staff Writer Kathleen Edgecomb contributed to this report.

j.hanckel@theday.com

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