For rent: classrooms, but schools need not apply

NIVERVILLE–A committee made up of Village of Valatie and Town of Kinderhook board members, and a few community members, met last week to discuss the future of the Martin H. Glynn School building on Church Street in Valatie and a new offer on the table to rent space at the old school.

The Ichabod Crane School District closed the school in 2011 due to declining enrollment. In a referendum on the May school budget ballot voters approved a resolution authorizing the transfer of the empty building to the town and village for $1. The district and the municipalities are still negotiating the details of the transfer. Once that deal is completed, the village and town plan to move their offices and the Town Court to the school and sell the buildings that currently house their municipal offices.

 

In the meantime at least two groups have expressed an interest in renting some of the remaining space in the school building once the transfer of ownership is complete. The first was Twin County Mental Health, which proposed an out-patient office for limited individual and group treatment services in a separate part of the old school. But that plan was withdrawn following community opposition and with it went the offer of a $2,000-a-month rent payment.

Town Supervisor Pat Grattan said at the time that any rent would be placed in a savings account and used only for capital improvements to the building and not to boost revenue for the municipalities. He said the town and village did not need the rent money to pay for the operating costs of the building.

Last Thursday, August 23, the committee discussed a new proposal, this one from the acting principal of the Academy of Christian Leadership (ACL), who said the private school is interested in renting classrooms and the gymnasium.

Mr. Grattan reaffirmed the official position on how rent payments would be handled, saying that ACL, has offered $24,000 a year. He also emphasized that the town and village do not yet own the building.

ACL acting Principal Patricia Cavagnaro said the school was interested in growing and would like to rent more than the third floor, using classrooms on the other floors as well as the gymnasium. She also offered to help organize the other groups who want to use the building after hours for recreation, like boy scouts and CYO basketball.

Ms. Cavagnaro said that she had had a conversation with Town Board members about using more of the school and that is why she came to them with this expanded proposal.

Mr. Grattan said he had suggested that the town not move into the space, leaving the village to use the “new wing” of the building and renting the rest of the school to the ACL.

Mr. Grattan said this was just a proposal and he was open to suggestions. “I want to have everyone involved in every proposal that comes along,” he said.

Committee Member Peter Bujanow said he felt voters had approved the sale of the building for municipal use and not use by another school. “This moves this in a whole different direction,” he said.

Valatie Mayor Gary Strevell, who is on the committee, reminded the group that they’d received a letter from the district asking for a statement of the committee’s intentions for the building and for a final contract of sale by September 30. He stressed that the village wants to use the building not only because the current office is crowded, but because officials do not want a large building in the village to fall into disrepair.

Mr. Grattan asked Ms. Cavagnaro if the ACL would be willing to use just the third floor. She said no.

The school district estimated it would cost about $30,000 a year to maintain and operate the building, and committee member Patsy Leader said that if the municipalities are the only occupants, “I hope Valatie and the town can afford it.” She said the committee had looked at the costs and felt the municipalities could handle them, but she worried about where the money would come from to pay for major repairs in the future.

The committee will write a letter to the district stating that the village and town offices will be moving to the building.

The next committee meeting will be September 27 at 7 p.m. at the town hall in Niverville.

 

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