The Stratford High School Longbrook Park campus concept ended as quickly as it started Monday night. Following a 4 pm meeting by the Stratford Board of Education, that proposed building a new Stratford High School campus at the Longbrook Park little league fields, the Stratford Town Council unanimously voted to reject the project after public outrage was expressed over the seemingly impromptu nature of the project.
Parents and the Longbrook neighborhood sprung into quick action, organizing a rally at the park over the weekend with over 75 citizens present, which included former Board of Education Chairman, Gavin Forrester, who also represented part of the Longbrook Park neighborhood when he was a Councilman, Mayor Harkins, and Councilmembers James Connor and Craig Budnick, who represents the other end of Longbrook Park.
Previous plans were to renovate Stratford High School in its current location with major building and infrastructure overhauls to modernize the school at its current location near Town Hall. The 2011 Town Council approved that project, at the old Board of Education's request, with the condition that the Board of Education might consider an alternative site if conditions and funding situations were appropriate. On the line is approximately 54% matching funds from the State of Connecticut if no progress is made to the campus. "If we are coming near a funding deadline, we will seek a waiver," stated Council Majority Leader James Connor at the Sunday Longbrook Rally. Residents stated concerns over cost, intrusion to a residential neighborhood and the effects a larger campus would have in Stratford's limited park spaces.
Council Chairman Joseph A. Kubic announced before a packed town hall the public forum of the April Town Council meeting Monday evening, "Let it be known before we go into public forum tonight that the sentiment on the Town Council is with you. This is something we would never approve" to a large ovation from the crowd.
The Town Council later voted to reject the Longbrook Park site for Stratford High in a unanimous vote, 10 votes to none. This was also met with applause and cheers from the crowd.
"It looked like to me that there was no intent to do wrong from the Board of Education. This is just a policy that is not in the interest of the town," added Councilman James Connor. Councilman Ken Poisson also noted that "many town officials are volunteers who want to do the right thing. and take many hours of their week to do what they believe is right for the town." Both Councilors Connor and Poisson wanted to let the public know that despite a difference of opinions over the school construction projects and budgets, the members of the Board of Education are unpaid volunteers looking to serve the community.