Gowanda discusses former hospital property

GOWANDA – The Gowanda Board of Education discussed the possibility of adding additional practice fields. Superintendent James Klubek announced at Wednesday’s meeting he received an offer to purchase the former Tri-County Memorial Hospital site.

“I know going back that has been brought to our attention and we had some plans drawn for possible practice fields. … I did want to bring it back up again. (TLC) did make that phone call; it was very nice of them,” Klubek said.

The former hospital site has been vacant since the demolition of the flood-damaged building. Board of education member Ann Martindale questioned if there was contamination still located on the site. She said residents of Memorial Drive have told her there are contaminants still present.

“I feel I wouldn’t want to put our kids down there if it’s contaminated,” Martindale said.

Board President Susan Flaherty said there are pieces of debris still buried at the site. That debris would need to be dug up and removed before any field could be installed. Peter Delpriore, board member, asked about property taxes, maintenance costs and if the district would be liable for potential contamination costs if the district takes ownership.

The issue of the property being in a flood plain and student accessibility was also brought up.

Mark Nephew, board vice president, said his house is in a flood plain and was damaged in the most recent flood in May. As an example of how quickly flood damage can be repaired, Nephew said he was able to eradicate the damage from May in time for a wedding held at his property in July. Nephew also said plans for the practice field included using the old helicopter landing pad away from where the former hospital structure stood.

“Yes, my house was hit with a flood in May. I got it in shape to have a wedding in July. If you know what you’re doing you can do it,” Nephew said.

The district is researching options to relocate the track from Hillis Field. Board member Cynthia Sutherland said she would like to see the options for relocating the track and using Hillis Field as a practice field prior to a decision being made.

The board of education members decided they would like more information on the property, and would wait to hear results on a track relocation. Klubek will reach out to the representative from TLC and report to the board at a later date.

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