There was a Ypsilanti School Board Meeting last night that Jules attended, the big subject being a proposed new school bus maintenance facility. The current facility is just north of Depot Town and apparently in need of of a lot of upgrades. The proposal being put forward is to setup a new bus maintenance and storage facility off Congress St where the RCTC facility is now. This property is just south of West Middle School and the school district already owns the property. There are some logical economic reasons why this would be a good location. There are also a lot of issues with putting the bus garage here, not least of which that Congress is a 2 lane road here with gravel shoulders. A lot of kids walk to West along this road and it would get quite dangerous with the extra bus traffic there. There are also issues with extra diesel fumes and noise from all the extra bus traffic in the area. The diesel exhaust is a particularly an issue for a facility that would sit right in the middle of a residential area, particularly one where a lot of kids suffer from asthma. Eric Touchberry who is a strong supporter of the School district and Board, (for the record I am also a strong supporter of the Ypsilanti schools) sent an e-mail the other day to a number of people trying to justify the move and it was forwarded to me. One point in particular struck me as very flawed:
First, we’re a poor school district. Poor school districts can’t afford to throw good money after bad on the current us maintenance facility. Why don’t we fix it right and clean it up? Because school districts aren’t eligible for federal brownfield leanup funds. We can’t afford to fix it up right, but we *can* sell the property to the city, which *is* eligible for cleanup funding. After the certified cleanup, the city can sell the property for some extra cash. That’s a winning scenario for the city and the school district. But even if the city doesn’t buy the property, it would be fiscally irresponsible of the district to retain the current bus facility.
First of all, the city of Ypsilanti is facing financial problems probably even more serious than the school district. The chances of the city coming up with the money to buy the current bus garage property seems very slim at best. Also very close to the current bus garage is the site of the old Motor Wheel plant. This plant has been shut down for several years and no seems to to be very interested in cleaning up and developing that. If an existing facility in the same area is available with no interest, what makes Eric think that there would be any more interest in the bus garage? I agree that we need to take a look at any an all possible ways for the school district to cut costs. This is especially true given that as long as the republicans control the Michigan legisilature, we are unlikely to see any policy changes that will result in public schools getting even enough funds to keep up with inflation much less grow. They seem to be obsessed more with charter schools than funding public schools. With companies like Delphi and Visteon shrinking fast, the situation is only going to get worse. But this does not appear to be the right answer at this time.