PEPPERELL — The Planning Board continued discussions on the future use of the Peter Fitzpatrick School, touching upon input received from a number of sources, including the School Department and public safety at their most recent meeting.
“When Peter Fitz closed, one thing that I thought was really too bad was that Pepperell lost pre-school,” said Planner Matthew Nesbit.
“There were 120 kids going to pre-school and there was a waiting list,” he said.
Nesbit recently attended the Varnum Brook PTO meeting and had an opportunity to talk to Superintendent Joan Landers and Principal Pauline Cormier.
“One thing we talked about was bringing pre-school back to Pepperell. That would be a benefit for people in town,” said Nesbit.
“They both had been thinking along the same lines and definitely thought it would be something looking into,” he said.
Generating “more positive energy” around the schools to revitalize the use at Peter Fitzpatrick moving forward was the suggestion of Chairman Richard McHugh, but he cautioned on relying on perception rather than real data.
“The average age of people in town aren’t in their 20s and 30s anymore; the average age of people in town are in their 40s and 50s,” said McHugh.
“Do we have true and accurate numbers on renters in town? We have a pretty big renting group,” said Planner Albert Patenaude, who wondered if renters factored into school-age data.
Patenaude also addressed inputs he received from Highway Superintendent Peter Shattuck, who advised that he would prefer to remain at the current Highway Department location.
“It doesn’t’ make sense to him. The noise, the disruption, the location — everything about it doesn’t make sense,” said Patenaude.
“He’d like to expand his building and get the groups all over there,” he said.
“Highway’s not going to go there because it doesn’t make sense. Fire and police already have some kind of plan to do something with their building already,” said Planning Administrator Susan Snyder.
“We have a master plan that advises that we consolidate our offices,” said McHugh.
McHugh underscored the need for plans to be put into place should the property not be sold at some future date. The board agreed that discussions would continue at future board meetings.