CVCS Debates Building Use

SINCLAIRVILLE – Now that Cassadaga Elementary School will close at the end of the school year, the district has to decide what it wants to do with the building.

During a recent board of education meeting, Scott Smith, district superintendent, outlined three possibilities. According to Smith, the board may lease or rent the building, sell the building or donate the building to a public corporation.

Smith told board members it was not necessary to have a public vote to approve a leasing agreement.

“If you decide on that you should have a resolution to do so. … It should reflect a fair market value determined by the school board,” Smith said. “The lease must not exceed 10 years. If you wanted to enter into a lease that is more than 10 years, you will have to do so only upon the approval of the (New York state) Commissioner of Education. … The leasee is to restore the building to the original condition less ordinary wear and tear upon termination of the lease.”

Smith said the building can only be donated to another public entity, such as the county, a city, town and villages along with other public benefit corporations. Voter approval is required to donate the building. Smith said the district can sell the building, with no voter approval needed.

“The three options are not mutually exclusive,” Smith said. “We could rent a portion, donate a portion and sell a portion of the property.”

He said in that case, it would be necessary to be very specific in the terms of any agreements.

“In my opinion … the district will be willing to consider any reasonable use of that property,” Smith said. “I know that one of the things that weighed heavily on you as a board as it weighed heavily on me is to do our level best to make sure that the village of Cassadaga and the Cassadaga Elementary School continues to be a lively viable, functioning property.”

For a moment there was silence. Then David Christy, board president, said, “Well then, I would say that my number one thing would be if we could sell the property and put it on the tax roll for the village of Cassadaga. That would be my number one choice. But I would be willing to entertain other things also.”

The board passed a resolution to establish a committee whose charge is exploring alternatives uses for the Cassadaga Elementary School Participation on the committee is open to any interested group or individual. The superintendent is to contact local government bodies, municipalities and other organizations to offer the opportunity to participate on the committee.

Smith told the board that he has already contacted those who served on the committee to explore the closure of the school. Any person who is interested in the committee should contact Smith at the school.

“I think if we do a motion and vote to establish a committee I wouldn’t like to see any kind of restriction or having us narrow down on anything right off the bat,” said S. Carl Perry, board vice president. “Let the committee get together, throw everything they can in the basket on the table. Who knows … whatever comes out of that committee hopefully will give us some direction as to what the best route may be.”

Board member Jeanne Oag said, “Conversely we need to know what the market value of the property is so that we can ask a sale price as well as a lease price. … We’re going to have to get some numbers in play on a couple of different scenarios.”

Board member William Carlson suggested a committee not eliminate architects as a resource.

“They (architects) do find uses for a lot of these buildings and they have connections with people we would not even about or the committee wouldn’t think about,” Carlson said. “(I’m) just trying to broaden the ideas.”