PROSPECT — After receiving a positive recommendation from the committee charged with reviewing the potential purchase of Community School, the Town Council decided to move forward with putting an offer together to present to the Region 16 Board of Education.
Town Council Chairman Tom Galvin said the council plans to present a “purchase bid price” to the Region 16 school board, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, at the school board’s Oct. 14 meeting.
Community School, which is located at 12 Center St., was closed at the end of the last school year. Students began attending the newly-constructed Prospect Elementary School in August.
The town of Prospect is interested in buying the property in keeping with its policy of purchasing land on Center Street. Town officials envision using the school for many purposes, including recreational activities, for civic organizations and possibly an emergency shelter.
The decision to take the next step in buying the school came Tuesday night after the council received the final report from the Community School Purchase Committee, which was formed in May.
“We gathered all the information for what we thought was the best thing for Prospect. We thought it was a great idea, obviously, to purchase this building sitting in the center of town,” Community School Purchase Committee Chairman Fred Harkins told the council.
The committee, with help from school officials, estimated the cost of operating the building as a community recreation center to be roughly $110,000 a year, according to Harkins. That figure includes approximately $29,500 for electricity and $35,750 for water usage.
The committee also presented the council with a report it received earlier in the year detailing where asbestos is in the building. According to the report, most of the asbestos is in good shape and will require simple monitoring. However, there is asbestos in classroom 111, the kitchen, and the hallway near the main office that will need remediation.
Harkins said the committee hadn’t seen the town’s appraisal or the inspection of the building, but noticed there are definitely some items that will need to be repaired. Harkins said the biggest expense will be repairing the roof, which is leaking in spots.
Harkins said there are other smaller things that the town will have to fix, such as the ripped curtains on the stage.
“It’s a minor item, but that curtain is quite expensive,” Harkins said.
Overall, Harkins said, the feedback from the community on buying the school was very enthusiastic.
“There is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and interest in Prospect owning this building because there are so many organization in town that are vying for space right now,” Harkins said.
The purchase price of the building is to be determined.
All three interested parties — Region 16, Prospect and Beacon Falls — each got an appraisal of the property. Region 16’s appraisal came in at $1,225,000, while Prospect got an appraisal of $1,250,000. Beacon Falls’ appraisal was $1,510,000.
Galvin said the council received a commercial inspection report on the building earlier on Tuesday that estimated the cost of repairs needed on the property. He said the council had a number of questions that need to be clarified before the total cost of the repairs could be determined.
The council planned to hold a special meeting before the school board’s Oct. 14 meeting to clarify the cost of the repairs. Galvin said using that cost and an appraised value, which will factor in all three appraisals, the council will present a bid to the school board.
The school board will decide whether to accept or the reject the offer. If the Region and Prospect agree to a deal, voters in Prospect would have to approve buying the school and a regional meeting would have to be held to vote on selling the school. The money from the sale would be returned to the two towns.