Developer proposes his land for new school next to Centennial Park in Moncton

The school would replace Bessborough and Hillcrest schools in west end

Last month, Premier Brian Gallant announced Moncton would be getting a new Kindergarten to Grade 8 school in the city’s west end. (Hillcrest School, Moncton NB/Facebook)

A Moncton developer hopes that the province will choose his land next to Centennial Park for a new school.

Last month, Premier Brian Gallant announced Moncton is getting a new kindergarten to Grade 8 school in the west end.

Although there’s no word yet on when the school will be built or where, the province has put aside $1.5 million to begin planning the new school, which will replace Hillcrest and Bessborough schools.

Romeo Goguen, who owns Mapoma, a development company in Moncton, owns vacant land along the north edge of Centennial Park, directly across the street from the CN Sportplex, a large recreational facility in the west end, which planners feel is an easy location to drive to.

“He said, ‘Listen, if it made sense for the community and the community was interested in putting a school there … I think it would be a great piece of land because it borders the park and right across the street are the best fields in the city,'” said Bill Whalen, owner of Hawk Marketing, who is working with Goguen on the project.

What a great place to have recreation and social activities as part of your school mix.
-Bill Whalen , owner of Hawk Marketing

Goguen bought the land from a Crown corporation, Canada Lands Company.

He had a 10-year development plan, but he put it on hold about a year ago after he heard the two schools were closing down.

According to Whalen, the landowner has started playing around with plans to see what the school layout could look like and how the community could be improved.

“If my kids could’ve gone to a school that had the beautiful Centennial Park … and across the street had the fields of CN Sportplex — what a great place to have recreation and social activities as part of your school mix,” Whalen said.

But not everyone supports having a new school at that location.

Whalen and Jim Scott, president of Trace Planning and Design, recently met with committees from both west end schools. While parents at Hillcrest were for the idea, parents at Bessborough want a new school on the current site.

A broader vision

Whalen said the developer has also met with New Brunswick Finance Minister Cathy Rogers, members of the district education council and with the city.

“Romeo’s big thing was, ‘I don’t want this to be another Moncton High, where once the school decision is made, the old school gets left behind and nothing done with it.’

“He wanted to create a vision for the other two sites.”

The plan would include housing.

“In the end, this is the province’s decision … but let’s raise our hand and say, ‘We’ve got a piece of land that we think might make some sense for the parents, for the kids and for the community.'”

Scott said between 20 and 25 acres would be needed for a kindergarten to Grade 8 school but 15 acres would be OK.

There have not been any discussions between the landowner and the province. But the landowner will develop a proposal package, while continuing discussions with the city and going through a rezoning process.

“Romeo wanted to make it very clear that he wanted this to be a wonderful place for kids,” Scott said. “We want this to be a neighbourhood school.”

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