2013: Keep at it

The turning of the year offers a chance to think back, look ahead, change ways, finish up things begun. There’s some hard work on the town’s agenda, decisions to face up to, and jobs to get done.

The stalled school closing needs to be advanced. Politically difficult decisions may not be the school board’s strength, but the toughest of them — that a school should be closed, at about 2,000 elementary students — has been made. Another hard one — which building? — has been narrowed down to two. Superintendent Deborah Low, with her patience and respect for process, has laid out a step-by-step path through the tasks that remain. The board and the bureaucracy need to stick with the process.

The 45-acre Schlumberger property was purchased a little over a year ago with a town-wide vote that culminated a show of strong leadership by the Board of Selectmen. The selectmen’s dual goals  — recouping a good chunk of the $7 million spent on the property, and guarding against unbridled development there — remain within reach. With clean-up moving along under Schlumberger, the town should start moving toward a sale of the 10 acres off Sunset Lane that are envisioned as a residential area. Get some public input on the zoning —  don’t forget the promised deed restrictions — then pursue the needed changes, and see what the market will bring. The selectmen also need to decide what to do with the five acres on the other side of Old Quarry Road. It seems sensible to reserve it for future town use, but that needs to be talked out, thoroughly. The discussions with the art collector interested in some of the land and buildings on the campus need to come out into the light — including some public discussion of the future of the theater building. And, the idea of combining a new sewer line to serve Quail Ridge with an extension of the Rail Trail seems attractive.

There are sure to be some new and important additions to the town’s agenda in 2013 — such as a sensible, sensitive tightening of school security. But both town and school officials need to keep at some of the important things they’ve started.

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