The members of the citizens' group who have opposed the design of the new Commerce High School have a decision to make.
What do they do now that the school board has voted to proceed.
To say that they were incensed after last Wednesday night's meeting would be an understatement. They came away feeling insulted by a board that refused to let them ask questions and by former chairman Steve Perry who acted personally offended that they'd gotten involved.
The leadership of People Excited About Commerce Education right now is very angry at the Commerce Board of Education and Superintendent Mac McCoy.
That's OK, but the issue is that new school.
I thought the board's presentation, particularly that of the lead architect, did an excellent job of addressing the issues PEACE brought up. The gave logical reasons for selecting a one-story building instead of two-story, addressed the "green" issues, explained how the elevations would work, described input from school staff into the design and discussed at length the gym situation, the reasons for it and their plans to address it.
A spokesperson for PEACE acknowledged that if that same presentation had been made in March, many of the group's concerns would have never come up.
What's left involve the gym, the practice field, the track and the performing arts center - none of which are directly related to the central functions of CHS.
Personally, I would have preferred a two-floor school, for reasons that are largely aesthetics, but several speakers presented good arguments for going with one floor. I can accept those. The gym, practice field and even the track location are secondary issues. Is the size of the performing arts a deal-breaker?
Among the options for PEACE are filing suit, trying to recall the board of education or accepting the current plan.
Before either of the first two is attempted, PEACE must assess the situation solely on the merits of the plan, laying aside the school board's cowardly response. I think Wednesday's session answered most of the group's important concerns. At the least, it should have given members a higher comfort level with the architects. Are there still sufficient concerns among enough people to warrant hostile and costly action that could very well delay and increase the cost of the new school? Are the remaining differences of opinion substantial or cosmetic? The risk is that the justifiable anger felt over the school board's response will carry an inordinate amount of weight in deciding whether to escalate the fight, to the detriment of the school system.
My inclination is that the architects have come up with a plan that, while it does not totally fulfill my wish list, will result in a functional, attractive high school, and I came away from Wednesday's meeting reasonably satisfied that Robertson Loia Roof is up to the task.
PEACE members likely feel otherwise. They must decide if their concerns warrant escalating the fight.
Mark Beardsley is editor of The Commerce News. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org