Board recommends appraisal of school

Region 16 is preparing to sell Community School in Prospect. –RA ARCHIVE
Region 16 is preparing to sell Community School in Prospect. –RA ARCHIVE

BEACON FALLS — The Board of Finance wants the town to get its own appraisal of Community School in Prospect before the Region 16 school district moves forward with selling the property.

The finance board voted unanimously June 9 to recommend the Board of Selectmen hire firm to do the appraisal for up to $10,000.

The school, which is located at 12 Center St. in Prospect, will be closed after this school year. Students will attend the newly constructed Prospect Elementary School in the fall.
Since it will no longer be used as a school, Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, is looking to sell the building. The town of Prospect is interested in purchasing the property.

If the region and Prospect agree to a sale, they are the only two parties that have to get an appraisal. Beacon Falls doesn’t have to get one. The finance board’s recommendation came after Region 16 received an appraisal of about $1.2 million for the property.

Board of Finance member Joe Rodorigo said he expects the appraisal to cost between $4,000 and $5,000. He added the town’s appraisal could come in with a higher number than Region 16’s appraisal.

Board members questioned whether it would be worth the money to have another appraisal done on the school, if both Prospect’s appraisal and Region 16’s appraisal come back with similar numbers.

Town Treasurer Mike Krenesky argued that it would be a good use of the money.

“If you want your fair 40 percent it is,” said Krenesky, referencing the money Beacon Falls would receive from the sale of the school.

Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield said, in a subsequent phone interview, the town has not yet begun the process of getting its own appraisal on the school. The town has formed a committee to review purchasing the property.

Chatfield said he’s searching for documents that were drawn up when Region 16 was created because the district may have already laid out the process for selling a building.

Chatfield also wants to ensure the building is free of asbestos.

“We are not ready for an appraisal,” Chatfield said.

Land records available on the town of Prospect’s website list the appraisal of the property at about $4.2 million. This appraisal is based on the market value of real property at the time of the last revaluation in Prospect, which was in 2011, the property record card states.

Chatfield said he was not sure when that appraisal had been done or why it was that amount.

Board of Finance Chairman Jack Levine supported the idea of Beacon Falls getting its own appraisal, but said it ultimately might not matter.

“I’m thinking that the Region 16 Board of Education is the deciding factor,” Levine said. “Beacon Falls could come up with an appraisal of $10 million and Prospect could come up with half a million dollars, and Region 16 could come up with $1.2, and the voting members of the Board of Education can decide what’s going to be done. In other words, we do the appraisal for the purposes of letting us know and the public know.”

If the Board of Education voted to sell the school for less money than Beacon Falls felt it was worth, Levine added, the only recourse the town would have would be to take the decision to court.

Board of Finance member Jim Huk said the appraisal would allow the town to put pressure on the Board of Education, if it felt the price was too low.

“We can put pressure on it to not go through if the number is ridiculously different,” Huk said.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik said he would like to get moving on the appraisal and the Board of Selectmen could hold a special meeting to vote to do so.