Save Gale School Committee encouraged after meeting with Shaker board again

BELMONT — The Shaker Regional School Board agreed to allow the Save the Gale School Committee continue exploring possible uses for the historic but now empty building.

Committee member Ken Knowlton said the board seemed interested in preserving the Gale School with an eye to possibly using the relocated school as a public library.

"The didn't say no," Knowlton said, commenting last week on his appearance before the board. "We are interpreting that they like the idea and want to see more."

"They agreed that the research (done by the Save the Gale School Committee) could continue," confirmed Superintendent Maria Dreyer.

Knowlton said one of the School Board's biggest concerns was moving the school — now located on the edge of Bryant Park, behind the Middle School — only to see it abandoned again in a new location.

The Shaker Regional School District owns the Gale School. It also owns the corner lot near the Middle School that borders on Concord Street — the proposed site for any relocation. Knowlton said his initial idea would be for the library to lease the land from the School District.

Knowlton, former School Board member Pret Tuthill, Diane Marden, and Wallace Rhodes are the core of the Save The Gale School Committee. In the past few months, they have taken a two-pronged approach toward saving the 1890's school, with Knowlton and Tuthill working with the School Board and Marden and Rhodes working with the Library Trustees.

Marden and Rhodes made a similar presentation in September to the Belmont Public Library Trustees at the same time Tuthill and Knowlton were meeting with the School Board. Library Trustee Chair Mary Louise Charnley said last week that the trustees listened to their presentation but haven't had a chance to review or discuss it.

She said now that a librarian has been hired, she expects the trustees to have some kind of public discussion regarding the Save the Gale School Committee proposal at one of their upcoming meetings.

In the committee's mind, relocating the school to the corner lot and making it into the Belmont Public Library is a win for both — the Middle School gets better use of the land behind it and the library gets a chance to expand.

When Knowlton was asked if there was a "Plan B" should the library not want to relocate, he said the Save the School Committee "would cast a wide net" for potential users.

Knowlton said the next step is to go before the Board of Selectmen to update them on the committee's work.