School near Superfund site rejected

June 19, 2008 8:41:49 PM PDT
The Phoenixville school board announced a change of plans Thursday night - after a groundswell of opposition over a proposed school that was to have been built across from an industrial superfund site. Parents applauded the nearly unanimous vote to scrap the project to build Kimberton Elementary next to a federal Superfund hazardous waste site.

"I'm relieved. I wouldn't send my children there. I'm a cancer survivor myself, and I think the risk is too great to put a school on toxic land," said parent Karen Fain.

"We're very proud the board decided to go this way, so now we can select a nice healthy site," said opponent Dr. Pat Rose.

The school had been in the works for several years. But opposition only reached a fever pitch during the past couple of weeks.

The district spent nearly $500,000 on environmental testing and studies, and says the site appeared safe.

"In this case emotion overcame science. The Board sensed it and as a result of that, scrapped the project," said a disappointed school superintendent Dr. David Noyes.

The vote was a bitter defeat for Noyes. He will retire at the end of the month. The project was his swan song.

Under his watch, the district poured nearly $4 million into the project.

"All I can say is the next administration will to find a way to recover as much of the funding that was lost as possible."

When the vote was over the superintendent did receive a standing ovation.

Many parents say, despite the project, the district is better today than it was six years ago when Noyes took over.