Board discusses future of Cassadaga Elementary

SINCLAIRVILLE – The future of the former Cassadaga Elementary School building is up in the air.

In March, the Cassadaga Valley Central School District voted in favor of closing the building and combining students pre-K through fifth grade at the Sinclairville Elementary School.

The Cassadaga facility has sat empty since June and is currently designated as the village’s emergency shelter.

Elizabeth Holden of Hodgson Russ, LLP, which provides business-focused legal counsel, attended Cassadaga Valley’s board of education meeting on Monday evening to present options for its future.

According to Holden, there are three options.

She said the easiest option is to sell the building. Secondly, it could be donated to a public corporation and the other option would be to lease the property.

“The village of Cassadaga has a vested interest in what happens to that building,” said LeeAnn Lazarony, mayor of Cassadaga. “We don’t want to see it sit empty for 10 years.”

If the site is to be purchased by a business, it will have to meet with the Cassadaga Zoning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals in order to operate, and the village wants to cooperate with the board of education, but has not had success in the past.

“We were told we didn’t really have a voice,” Lazarony said at the meeting.

“We’re open to your suggestions,” said S. Carl Perry, board president, adding that a decision would not be made without a referendum.

After the building was closed at the end of the 2012-13 school year, a committee was created and composed of community members concerned about the closed school’s future. However, only one meeting was held.

As for its current designation as a community shelter, nothing has changed. At an October meeting of the Cassadaga Village Board, Lazarony confirmed that the building is being maintained with heat and water and is indeed still the community shelter. However, Trustee Michael Lehnen asked if the building was fully prepared, and it was noted that the closed school’s kitchen is not stocked.

Lazarony said she would look into preparing the building for the winter “just in case we get a big blizzard again.”

Other closed schools buildings in Chautauqua County include Rogers Elementary School in Jamestown, Seneca Elementary School in Salamanca and Ripley High School.

All districts are currently weighing alternative uses for their buildings.

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