| Web-site poll shows support
for high school
Marianne Lippard, Register Correspondent June 06, 2001
DERBY — A poll posted on the city's Web site shows strong support for a new high school a week before a referendum on the issue.
As of Tuesday, 60 percent of those voting online favored the idea of building a new high school on a portion of Field View Farm. Thirty-nine percent voted against the plan.
Of the tens of thousands of derby citizens who regularly cruise the EletronicValley
'web' site, the score is 74 to 48 (noon-6/6/01) for a total 122 opinions
Residents will vote on the $31.4 million proposal from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Bradley and Irving schools.
The project will be paid for in part by an estimated $17.5 million state grant, with an approximate cost of $13.9 million to the city.
With less than a week left before the referendum, supporters and opponents have been posting signs on lawns to sway voters.
Although the Derby home page refers to the public opinion poll as the "first unofficial poll," the results would seem to offer hope to those who look to a new school as the best solution to the problem of overcrowding.
But Michael Kelleher, chairman of the high school building committee, said he isn't convinced that the figures represent the overall sentiment around Derby.
"Most younger people are on the computers. I don't put much stock in computer Web site polls," Kelleher said.
Nevertheless, Kelleher said he is "hopeful" that the building project will pass.
A total of 115 people, out of a city of 12,000, have voted in the online poll.
Jack Walsh, who maintains the Web site, said the poll results for the last school building project predicted success. Yet the $40.6 million plan was killed by a 2 to 1 margin last year.
Walsh said fewer people participated in the online poll prior to the referendum in June 2000.
The home page also offers visitors the opportunity to comment on the proposal. "What has been interesting about the poll is that there have been more comments than votes," Walsh said.
In response to the apparent demand for dialogue on the issue, Walsh has scheduled "real time" discussions and debate every night beginning at 9 p.m. until Monday.
Walsh, chairman of the Park and Recreation Commission, said the home page was designed to provide information in an unbiased format.
Taxpayers interested in logging on may visit the site at http:/electronicvalley.org/derby/.
Mayor Marc Garofalo said he supports the plan.
"We've had meetings for three-and-a-half years. If anything should be clear to people, it's that there is a need for more space," Garofalo said. "If the referendum doesn't pass, that doesn't eliminate the need for more space."
Board of Education Chairman James Gildea said residents should think about how they want to see Derby years from now.
"This vote will do much to shape how our town will grow or not grow. It's about whether Derby wants to be progressive and move forward or remain stagnant and lag behind the other Valley communities," Gildea said.
©New Haven Register 2001