Prospect planning for ownership of school

Community School on Center Street in Prospect. –RA ARCHIVE
Community School on Center Street in Prospect. –RA ARCHIVE

PROSPECT — With the sale of Community School approved by voters, Prospect officials are looking towards the future of the building.

On March 23 voters in Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, approved the sale of Community School, 12 Center St., to the town of Prospect for $873,000.

Officials had discussions on Monday with a financial advisor regarding bonding money to pay for the school.

“We are getting information and lining things up for the funding,” Mayor Robert Chatfield said.

Chatfield said the town expects to close on the sale of the school in the beginning of July. This is also when the money for the bond would come through, since it has to be borrowed in the 2016-17 fiscal year, he said.

The money from the sale will be returned to Beacon Falls and Prospect. The money will be divided between the towns based on the student population ratio, which is roughly 60.8 percent Prospect and 39.2 percent Beacon Falls. According to the sales agreement, Prospect will get back $530,469.72.

Chatfield expects to receive the money at the end of September or beginning of October. The money will be used to help pay off the bond.

In addition, the town has $400,000 set aside in a surplus account to pay for repairs to the building.

Chatfield said the town will first fix the roof on the school, which currently leaks in spots causing water damage throughout the building. He said the town will go out to bid for the roof repairs as soon as the sale is finalized.

The town will also begin basic cleaning and maintenance on the building once the sale is closed. This includes washing the windows, reconnecting the phone lines, and getting technology in the building, such as wireless internet, up and running, Chatfield said.

“The school will be an emergency shelter [during blackouts or storms]. We want to be able to have several hundred people going on the Wi-Fi. A lot of people, when they go to the shelter, plug everything in that needs charging,” Chatfield said.

Currently, the firehouse is used as the town’s emergency shelter.

As far as town departments and organizations, the recreation office will be the first to move into the building, Chatfield said. The recreation office will be quickly followed by various town organizations, which will be allowed to use certain classrooms for meetings, he said.

The town also plans to make the gym available to civic organizations for fundraisers.

The town is hoping to begin using the building for activities as soon as Labor Day, Chatfield said. However, it will see some use over the summer for town’s summer programs as it has for the past 30 years, Chatfield said.

“It really is a multi-purpose building,” Chatfield said.

Although the end result will be a boon to the town, Chatfield said getting to the point when the building is fully up and running will take a while.

“This won’t happen overnight. Little by little we are going to move over there,” Chatfield said. “It is an ongoing growing project.”