Council to make offer for school

The former Community School in Prospect. –RA ARCHIVE
The former Community School in Prospect. –RA ARCHIVE

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.


  1. Mike

    Coming once again from a citizen, there is and has been for as long as most can remember a larger problem. They feel that they have no accountability. I am sure with all the meetings you have gone to (when not as a member) you have seen like myself and EVERY OTHER citizen of Prospect or BF, they take the obligatory public comment BUT have in all your years of experience, besides the superintendent, have they ever answered a single question right then?? Go to a BOS, BOF, P&Z, Economic or another commission/board meeting and most if not every question is replied to even if it is nothing more than will get you an answer/info requested. To me and others I have seen their own board members show their level of contempt to have to listen to public comments and disrespect the public by rolling their eyes. Out of respect I will not mention who but those people know who they were/are.

    Until the simple problem of the people requiring them 1st) to answer for and 2nd) to be accountable for their actions, then we will never be able to address the low state rankings education wise, monies being spent, and a whole litany of other “issues” that many of us have been saying in this very publication for years.

    In my humble opinion I would whole-heatedly get behind a proposal of such a change to how they are made to handle their business and meetings.

  2. It is indeed unfortunate for the taxpayers of both Beacon Falls and Prospect that the Bd of Education caved into the political pressures and instead of setting a value on the property that would be fair, they came to this decision to support only the Town of Prospect.

    While I am disappointed with Mr. Rybinski for voting with the crowd Wednesday evening, I ask that we all strongly support Republican Doug Bousquet and Democrat David Rybinski for the positions on the Bd of Education representng Beacon Falls. Together I expect that they will make a strong team and voice for the taxpayers of Beacon Falls.

  3. And I will state iheartbf that the BOF and BOS have been trying to take it to the BOE but see they play by a different set of rules and have no accountability except to themselves. Take for example the surplus they spent for additional things, as a CITIZEN of BF AND NOT A BOF MEMBER, they do not have the same check and balances the town does as far as what and where they can spend moneies that were voted in by a budget. See from a BF / BOF standpoint we have somewhat limited options in spending monies that were not part of the budget or we runovers for whatever reason. We need to move monies from line item to line item and if needs 2 moves for same line item or goes over $20k we need a town vote.

    Now the Region is different. Once the budget is passed they could spend on whatever they want, however they want whether or not it is in the passed budget or not. No accountability at all. And when the BOS/BOF expressed their concerns, you saw the the Superintendent’s version of “truths” in his letter here including his statement that their 75% should have no bearing over our budget process amongst other intellectual concepts.

    Now I know that several people were at the meeting last night and implored the board to take no action and setup an independent committee involving the 2 towns to comeup with a fair value and if they moved forward with that our members should walk out in protest. Well from what we are hearing (and will publically state was wrong if turns out to be incorrect), the vote was unanimous to sell at a reduced price. So I guess our members felt we should pay for Prospects repairs to their wanted building. Again this is from a citizen of BF – not an official.

  4. Well you have your answer Mike. Since last night the BOE voted IN EXECUTIVE PRIVATE SESSION to move forward with the sale to Prospect for about 2/3 of what the appraised value is BECAUSE we as Beacon Falls have to pay for Prospects needed repairs to the building. If have the numbers correct, the approx appraisals where in the $1.2-1.5M and if what information we are hearing is correct, Prospect presented a sealed offer of $750K and the BOE voted to accept $860K. This was supposed to be a unanimous vote including BF members doing their usual best work like always looking out for our once great town. There have been several of us who have been screaming for either a dissolution of the Region or move towards a Region 9 aspect where there are both separate town and region BOE.

  5. There are long time members on the Region 16 BOE who are supposed to represent the interests of Beacon Falls’ residents and taxpayers, as well as the children. You would never know this given their ineffectual “go along to get along” orientation and their aversion to anything controversial or confrontational. I would urge voters to remember this come election day in November. If there was ever a place in need of new ideas and fresh talent, it is the Region 16 BOE. Finally, Beacon Falls has taken it in the knickers throughout the entire Prospect school building project. This will be the last chance for Beacon Falls members of the BOE, the BOS, and the BOF to try to prevent our town from getting hosed one final time on this project. Get involved and demand a fair deal for the people you supposedly represent.

  6. I would like to ask the Region 16 Board of Education who is the seller, why they have yet to declare a selling price for this property. As the seller, it is their function to sell this property for as much as the buyer is willing to accept as the selling price. With three appraisals it should be easy to set a price. I would expect that the price would be a number larger than the appraisals such that when the negotiation begins the ending price above or at the appraisal estimate.

    It appears that the BOE is waiting for The Town of Prospect to just make an offer. How will they know if they are anywhere near the right number without a set price to work off of. Assuming the Town of Prospect is the only potential buyer is not sound practice.

    To think that Prospect will not make an offer does not take into consideration that they are a very motivated buyer as they by practice are buying all the land on Center Street. This is a fantastic opportunity for Prospect as they at whatever price are getting a 60% discount! They get 60% back, which should cover all deficiencies in the build and property.

    I am asking that the BOE set a purchase price as soon as possible before the November 3rd election. I do not want to think that any incumbent up for reelection is avoiding this issue, but this should be a major factor to directing our vote on November 3rd. For me, no action setting a price, you lost my vote.