Vo-tech school could revive Newark neighborhood
It never ceases to amaze me how much Newark suffers from poor planning decisions cemented in legislation. Law is notoriously difficult to “undo”, and when short-sighted, cavalier deals are signed, communities can suffer the unintended consequences for years.
When it comes to what’s boarded and vacant, the ugliest thing in the neighborhood is the United site— which is partially owned by Essex County. After the hospital closed in 1997, the county administration in power at the time squandered $6.5 million to buy 40 percent of the site — from a doctors’ group that had paid less than $800,000 for the whole thing a few months before the deal. The site was supposed to become a county mental facility, an idea that died as too difficult and expensive.
The deal made the county and the doctors partners in a condo-type arrangement and they have been fighting in court over what the county could do with its part. Clyde Pemberton, head of the doctors group, has insisted the county honor a clause that says the site must be used for medical purposes.
That unfortunate partnership is the stone that must be rolled away if the county is going to enact the good idea that the current county executive, Joseph DiVincenzo Jr., announced this week. He wants to build a new county vocational high school on the site to replace three vocational high schools — two in Newark, one in West Caldwell. DiVincenzo says the buildings are in good shape and can be sold to charter schools or the local districts, but are too old to configure for the wiring and other needs of a modern high-tech, computer-tech, green-tech, vo-tech curriculum.