NAUGATUCK — The Board of Mayor and Burgesses has taken a step toward selling the now-vacant Prospect Street School on Route 68.
“It seems impractical that building would ever function as a school again with the amount of work that would be needed and the costs associated with it,” said Mayor Robert Mezzo, during the board’s Nov. 14 meeting.
The board voted to refer the 38,000-square-foot building’s future use to the Naugatuck Economic Development Corp., which will market it for sale. Any proposed reuse would have to be approved by the Planning Commission and the borough board.
The building, surrounded by houses and St. Hedwig’s Church, is in a high-density residential zone. Mezzo said discussions with commercial real estate firm owner Tom Hill III concluded the building could be best used as office space, but that will depend on market interest. A zone change or variance might be needed if a commercial use is proposed.
Built in 1955, the building was an elementary school until a reconfiguration two years ago, when the students moved to Hop Brook Elementary School. Mezzo said the students put on a “moving tribute” to the school that year, ceremoniously walking across the Naugatuck River to their new school nearly a mile away.
For two years after that, the school became a preschool and the home of the borough’s Head Start and School Readiness programs. The Board of Education, facing a $1.4 million funding gap, decided earlier this year to move the preschoolers to the former Central Avenue Elementary School and leave the Prospect Street building totally vacant.
The board saved about $516,000 by closing Prospect Street School, money that would have been mostly spent on an elevator to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
After the school closed, the school board voted to abandon it for educational purposes, leaving its fate in the hands of the borough, which owns all school buildings.
The school is appraised at $2.3 million and Mezzo said it is still being maintained. Money from the sale of the school will be paid toward the borough’s debts, Mezzo said.
“It will forever remain in Naugatuck’s history, but at this point it doesn’t serve a useful purpose as a school,” Mezzo said.