Controversy over Cumberland school site - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Controversy over Cumberland school site

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Nicole Gerber


CUMBERLAND -  Tempers are flaring over a proposed charter school site in Cumberland.

What's now the site of a skate park on Broad St. will soon become the Blackstone Valley Prep School.

It's got state Representative Jim McLaughlin concerned for the safety of the 400 incoming students because of sinkholes around that area.

 "I've done multiple research... Over the past 25 years there's been 5 documented... Actually 30 years... Cave ins."

 McLaughlin has been working with state historians to gather research on old mine shafts and tunnels located beneath the surface of the new school site.

He's gotten in touch with some neighbors who share his concerns.

But those concerns aren't shared by the town.

 "Quite frankly it's nonsense... And the nonsense needs to stop," said Mayor Daniel McKee.

 According to both the mayor and Civic Builders – the New York company commissioned to build the school – proper geological testing has been done to ensure the safety of the building site.

 "There's no credibility to the story, it's all surfacing out of Representative McLaughlin's want to kill the project... and quite frankly it's a good project," said McKee.

 "I say that's bogus... Ok. Look at the documentation... The 5 collapses that have occurred," said McLaughlin.

"It's a red herring... That's all it is," said McKee.

This argument is sure to continue as more plans are approved by the town and the site construction begins.

Mayor McKee says he doesn't plan on doing any additional testing on the area while Representative McLaughlin says he wants the state involved to ensure the safety of the site.

The town plans on having the school open for its first semester in the fall of next year.

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