To the Editor: BG should save Ridge school
Written by Patrick Ng   
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 11:32
In the Sentinel-Tribune 10/23/13, Mayor Edwards and some councilpersons toured the Ridge School building and found it in good shape and well-maintained. Therefore, utilize it. Why tear down a good building at an expense of 1/3 million dollars. It depends on the bid of demolition. It could cost as much as $70,000 per acre of green space and playground. Very expensive indeed. I would agree to tear it down, making it a green space, if it is an eyesore. Look at the former South Main Elementary School, which is still being used.
It is ridiculous for City Council buying the building ... competing with private enterprise when there are other people willing to buy it for similar uses. According to the BG Community Development Foundation, dozens of jobs would be created. Apartments are not allowed because of our zoning code.
City income tax is now at 2 percent, which is higher than many of our adjacent cities. With the economy getting better, there must be plenty of new money coming in and City Council is starting to "tax and spend" again. Everything was done in secrecy (executive session and emergency clause). What was the rush (no public input whatsoever)?
Was the Parks and Recreation Board informed? Since the Parks Department will have to maintain it, how many extra maintenance crews are needed? In the past, mini-parks were nuisances (hard to maintain with beer cans and rubbish everywhere and play equipment vandalized). People complained continuously. I won't live close to one myself. I know because I was on City Council in 1978 when the city decided to sell all the mini-parks.
If people in that area want it so bad for green space, I imagine they will have no qualm of paying something. My suggestion is to assess the cost and future maintenance to all property within 1,000 feet from Ridge School. This is not something new. Property owners and merchants in downtown were assessed for improvements and upkeep under Heritage 2000.
Eventually, Ridge School may become a green space anyway under political pressure. But first, let's hear from some other taxpayers of BG, since they didn't have a chance with City Council. After all City Council is spending a lot of tax money and issuing notes to fund this project.
Patrick Ng
Former BG councilman
P.S. Thank you BG residents who voted "no" on the Charter Amendment.

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