Town debates future of Sandy Hook building

Jan. 14, 2013 at 2:51 PM
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NEWTOWN, Conn., Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Newtown, Conn., residents are debating the future of Sandy Hook Elementary after 26 people were shot to death at the school last month, school officials said.

Some parents said they don't want their children to have to go back to a building that is a reminder of that terrible day. Others said they would like the school to reopen so it can return to creating fond childhood memories. Some called for it to be razed and turned into a public park with a memorial to the dead. Still more said it should be converted into a peace education center or planetarium.

What is readily apparent is Newtown residents are trying to move on.

Jimmy Greene and Nelba Marquez-Greene, parents of slain first-grade student Anna Marquez Greene, told ABC News they hope their young daughter's death is a catalyst for "common sense" reforms to make schools and other public places safer. They've created a non-profit group to begin that effort.

"We're hoping that through Sandy Hook Promise, we can bring awareness to issues, and start a conversation based on love and respect," Marquez-Greene said.

Sandy Hook Promise co-founder Tom Bittman said the group, formed in the days after the Dec. 14 tragedy, is advocating for a series of changes to address gun violence.

"We need to approach it differently," Bittman said. "We need a national conversation on the things that need to change, so that this doesn't happen again. We think it's holistic, we don't think it's one piece of legislation and one change. We think it's going to be a number of things."

As for the building itself, the district is no closer to a decision, except to say a previously debated district change that would have included closing one elementary school is off the table for now, The New York Times said. School officials said all plans include keeping the children who attended Sandy Hook prior to the shooting together, somewhere, for at least the next several years.

The school itself remains a crime scene and students and teachers are being bused to a previously closed school in nearby Monroe while investigators conclude their work and the district develops a permanent plan.

And at least one other physical reminder is being taken away. The Times said a public works crew set about removing the mountain of stuffed animals, candles, flowers and paper angels that served as a public shrine accumulated in the days after the shooting.

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