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Community criticizes plans for Norwood school site

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NORWOOD — Critics of the village’s plans for the Prospect Street property once occupied by the Norwood Elementary School may put cleanup efforts in jeopardy, according to Mayor James H. McFaddin.

Mr. McFaddin said he has been battling a series of rumors regarding the site of the former school since last week, and assured members of the village board and the community that these were unfounded at a board meeting Monday.

“It’s been like a circus here,” he said.

The two most persistent rumors are that the village has sold the 11-acre plot, or that it is planning to spend $500,000 to build a road connecting the two dead-end streets adjacent to the property. Neither is true, according to Mr. McFaddin.

The village has not sold the land and does not intend to, Mr. McFaddin said.

There was once talk of building a road, because Norwood did not own the portion of the property facing the street. This left it with no way to access its property. In 2012 ,the village purchased the piece of land in question, making plans for a new road moot.

“There’s been no discussion on that, and it’s completely unnecessary,” Mr. McFaddin said.

At the moment the village is focused on cleaning up the remaining debris from the 2009 fire that destroyed the school. Cleanup will be finished this summer, and renovations on the surviving wing will start in 2014. Concrete plans for development are still some time out, according to Mr. McFaddin, but when they come up, the entire community will be involved.

“Everybody is going to have a say in the process,” he said.

Mr. McFaddin said he feared that criticism from village residents could jeopardize the project, which has required a site-specific variance from the state and support from the Development Authority of the North Country to dispose of asbestos-laden debris. Without community backing, Norwood might lose the support it needs to finish the job, he said.

“This takes a united front. We have to make sure that everybody is on board here,” he said.

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