A gunman shot 26 people dead, including 20 children, before killing himself… (Julio Cortez / Associated…)
Faced with what one official called a “gut-wrenching” decision, a task force has voted to tear down the old Sandy Hook Elementary School and build a new one in its place.
The committee of 28 officials in Newtown, Conn. unanimously recommended the plan Friday night after weeks of discussion. Other options included renovating the current building or building a new school in a different location.
The decision to rebuild on the property is a symbolic step for the community, which lost 20 children and six educators in a December shooting rampage. Since the massacre, the 430 surviving students have attended school at a building in a neighboring town.
Laura Roche, a member of the Sandy Hook School Task Force and vice chairwoman of the Newtown School Board, told the Associated Press that the process of deciding what to do has been “very emotional and very hard.”
She noted the unity reflected in the unanimous decision.
"We came together as 28, and I hope we can come together as a community to rebuild the spirit of our community and build the school together," she said.
The $57-million proposed project will now go to the Newtown Board of Education for approval. The residents of Newtown must also approve the plan through a referendum.
On the Facebook page “We Are Newtown,” a range of reactions greeted the news. In a post, the group wrote, “Due process took place, long conversations were had, and strong emotions were shared.”
“We support this decision keeping in mind not everyone will be pleased,” the post read.
The post received dozens of comments, many supportive. Others said the site should not be rebuilt on at all and treated instead as hallowed ground or a memorial. Still others questioned the use of tax money in the project.
Several Sandy Hook teachers told the task force last week that they did not want to return to the property, the Associated Press reported.
During Friday’s hearing, Roche and other members of the task force acknowledged the difficulty in finding a solution.
“No matter what we do, we’re going to hurt someone,” Roche was quoted as saying.
Demolition of the school could begin as early as January 2014 if all goes as planned, officials said.
West, Texas, paramedic appears in court on pipe bomb charges
Recession dragged down birth rates for less-educated women
New York's One World Trade Center spire finally goes up