At its next meeting, the Regional School District 13 Board of Education is expected to consider whether to raze the former Korn School building or further analyze usage options, including leasing it for outside use.
Durham First Selectman Laura Francis passed the baton back to the school district after the town voted in December not to turn the empty school, 144 Pickett Lane, into a community center.
During a utilization meeting on April 25 – which Francis and Middlefield First Selectman Edward Bailey attended – Francis extended an offer to partner with the school district as a revenue source, but declined to drive any new proposals for the empty school.
“If you decide that you agree that it's a community asset, then I would love to partner with you and help utilize the space,” Francis said.
Specifically, the town would use the space for services currently being offered at the Durham Activity Center, 350 Main St.
She said the town budgets about $56,000 a year for the activity center, which would be transferred to the school district as a usage fee.
“The town of Durham is no longer in a position to take the lead on this, but if you would like, the town of Durham can be a partner,” Francis said.
The Board of Education had originally only considered two options: selling the building to Durham for use as a community center, and razing it.
In December, Durham residents voted down a $7 million proposal to convert the school into a community center, forcing the school district to re-elevuate its options.
Durham’s feasibility study showed the building to be in good condition, and Francis said because of this, she would not support razing it if other uses could be found.
“I would agree that tearing it down is not really high on my priority list, I would like to see some kind of uses (explored),” board chairman Bob Moore said in agreement.
Board member Norm Hicks expressed concern that delaying what may be an inevitable razing might mean the school district incurs even more expenses than expected, through both regular maintenance and necessary capital improvements.
Razing the building is estimated to cost about $1 million. To “moth ball” the building would be around $70,000 per year, based on past quotes.
The committee also discussed delaying the decision until after the beginning of the new fiscal year, when a shared town planner is hired who it hopes can assist in the process.