Original Plan to Demolish Old Bennett Middle Back on Track - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Original Plan to Demolish Old Bennett Middle Back on Track

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SALISBURY, Md. - Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver believed not tearing down the old Bennett Middle School would be a great way to save taxpayer money.  However, the Wicomico County Council voted on Tuesday to remove Culver's idea from consideration and clear the path for the original plan: tearing down the old school and replacing it with an athletic field and track.

The plan to demolish the school has been in the works for years.  It is Phase 3 of a project that included building the brand new Bennett Middle in Fruitland.  County Executive Bob Culver included the reconsideration of demolition in his Capital Improvement Plan he submitted to the county council.  Culver on Tuesday also asked the council for an additional 60 days to determine what exactly this building could be used for.  However, various members of the council said it all came down to bad timing, citing money that had already been allocated for the project and contracts that had already been signed.  The council rejected the idea of an additional 60 days and removed the reconsideration of demolition from the Capital Improvement Plan.

"I'm disappointed in a sense that I would have liked to have the 60 days to try to save the county as much money as possible.  But the council voted and the people spoke so I'm willing to go on from that," said County Executive Bob Culver.

Culver's plan would have kept the school standing and repurposed the building as new offices for the Board of Education.  The field and track would have been built on a near-by eight acre plot of land.  Moving forward with the original plan frees up that land, and District Superintendent John Fredericksen already has some ideas on the various purposes it can serve.

"Whether we use it for Salisbury University, or we use it for fields for softball for the tournaments, or if we use it for businesses; it gives us the opportunity to talk to the economic development folks and figure out the best uses for that space," said Fredericksen.

The county council did approve $2.2 million in the Capital Improvement Plan for West Salisbury Elementary.  Culver said the money will be used to make necessary improvements to the school including new windows and air conditioning.  The county executive added that the money puts the school back in line for possible replacement, however, it could be a few years before the replacement of the school ends up in his Capital Improvement Plan for Wicomico County.

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