By Gord Bowes, News staff
Residents near a large swatch of greenspace on the southeast Mountain want to make sure it continues to be used as a park after being sold by the public school board.
The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is in the process of declaring surplus the 9.5 acres of vacant land it calls Broughton East.
The residents know it better as their local park, one that's been used since the early 1990s when the community raised money for playground equipment and other features there.
"We worked hard in the community to get that park installed,” said longtime resident Dianne Brunetti. "It's something people use all the time.”
The City of Hamilton has an agreement with the board to use the northeast corner as a park, but the board wants to sell the property and put the money toward building new schools, including a new high school somewhere on the south Mountain.
The site was considered as a possible high school site during the 2011-2012 closure review, but has since been ruled out.
Brunetti said neighbours of Broughton East have formed a committee of 12 and are circulating a petition. They want to see the the greenspace preserved and perhaps expanded with soccer pitches and baseball diamonds, and are hoping the city will buy the property once the board approves it to be put up for sale.
Coun. Tom Jackson (Ward 6, east Mountain) said he has told the city's school board properties subcommittee he would like to see the municipality purchase the property if it is put up for sale.
In the past, school boards were allowed to hand over property to other government agencies for a nominal fee; today they are required to get fair market value. The price has not been established, but based on recent sales it could range from $150,000 to $250,000 per acre.
Daniel Del Bianco, the school board's senior facilities officer, said the land was purchased by the old Hamilton board of education in 1960 with an eye to build on the site one day.
But such ideas are constantly reevaluated as demographics and other factors change, he said, and “What may have been an ideal location at one time doesn’t mean it’s an ideal location today.”
Del Bianco said the process of declaring the land surplus could be completed by the end of the year and the land could be put up for sale in December.