MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — A controversial construction project will resume in Montgomery County after the Upper Perkiomen School Board debated for hours on Tuesday night.
School board officials tell CBS3 that the board voted 5 to 4 to rescind the previous decision to stop the building of a new middle school.
The decision comes as the dividing community grew outraged.
“This issue has absolutely divided our community,” said LaBrea Huff, who lives in Red Hill.
Weeks ago, the Upper Perkiomen School Board meeting boiled over in controversy when school board officials turned the tide to narrowly vote to terminate the already started middle school project.
The move was made on behalf of concerned taxpayers worried about their taxes going up because of the $55 million dollar price tag of the new school.
“It’s a little easier on the taxpayers budget if you just throw modulars in attached to a regular standing school,” said Jennifer Hartzel, who lives in Pennsburg.
But the school board members who voted in the 5-4 vote to terminate the project did so without knowing what the cost to terminate would still be to taxpayers.
“The buyouts for the contractors contracts as it is written is in the high $18 million dollars. That is what it will cost to pay them to leave without any further litigation,” said Jamey Eisenberger, a union electrician.
The district acknowledges it already spent about $10 million on the site before halting construction.
On Tuesday night, a special board meeting was held for the district to figure out how it was going to proceed.
“My hope this evening is that they’ve had two weeks to take an opportunity to assess some facts. My hope tonight is they re-instate the project,” said one parent.
“I do hope they stand firm in their decision. I don’t want a new middle school,” Hartzel said.
“I think at this point it is not a matter of for or against the school but a matter of what all those millions of dollars in taxes are going to buy us? Something or nothing?” said Eisenberger.
CBS3 has repeatedly reached out to the members who voted to halt the middle school project for comment, but none of the five have been available.
It’s unclear at this time how soon the project will resume.