Another committee to be formed in Cassadaga

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, Superintendent Scott Smith outlined the 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 the board members that it was not necessary to have a public vote to approve a leasing agreement.

He said, “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. 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 explained the conditions for donating the building. He said, “(It can only be donated) to another public entity. It can be donated only to a public corporation that includes, for instance, county, city, town and villages along with other public benefit corporations. Voter approval is required for that action.”

Speaking about the option to sell the building, Smith said, “Voter approval is not necessary in that case. Once again, the work is to achieve a fair market value.”

Smith added, “The three options are not mutually exclusive. 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.

Smith concluded, “In my opinion … the district will be willing to consider any reasonable use of that property. 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 Board President David Christy 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.”

Board Vice President S. Carl Perry said, “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. 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 that a committee not eliminate architects as a resource. He said, “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. Just trying to broaden the ideas.”

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.

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