Use this search box to find articles that have run in our newspapers over the last several years.

Judge rules on Ashley Street school hearing

Date: 9/26/2012

By Carley Dangona

WESTFIELD — On Sept. 18 Judge Tina Page issued a preliminary injunction thwarting the city from construction or demolition of any land under Article 97, Cross Street Playground, without first designating a surrogate site.

The motion directly affects the Ashley Street School Project because the playground is part of the future site of the new, 600-student elementary school the city plans to open in September of 2014.

Mayor Daniel Knapik offered his opinion about Page's decision. "I'm upset about it," he said. "It's like these ten people are sticking their fingers in the eyes of the children. It's selfish. It's not like this building isn't going get built, it is."

It should be noted that there are a total of 25 plaintiffs listed in the legal documents.

Knapik continued, "What we're doing was done in 1990 with the building of the Paper Mill Elementary School. A conversion wasn't done until 2004 — this practice occurs throughout the Commonwealth. In the end, we'll have a better park."

He also responded to Page's criticism of the city's actions and shared the city's next steps in the project. "We have been working in accordance with the state," Knapik said. "Over the next 90 days we will work on the remediation and conversion of the building [Ashley Street School]."

Assistant City Solicitor William O'Grady explained that the ruling offered some benefit in favor of the city. "The injunction rules partly in favor of the plaintiffs," he said. "Originally, the emergency order encompassed all land [in the project], but the judge limited the order to the playground only."

In regards to the progress of acquiring an approximately 30-acre substitute site on Main Street, O'Grady stated, "The city's working on that daily."

He continued, "We've reviewed the court order and will proceed in accordance with it the order is pretty clear as to what can and can't be done."

Lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Thomas Kenefick III explained that side's next steps. "We're going to expand the scope of Article 97 — we believe it applies to the entire playground [not just a portion, as the city believes]," he said. "We're also looking into the National Park Service to see if there is additional land [in the project] that could be covered [under its protection]."