PLYMOUTH – Main Street School has stood empty since the Board of Education moved out last summer and is likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future.
Matt Tellier, chairman of the Town Hall Annex Building Committee, reported to the Town Council this week that the committee found every option for what to do with the old elementary school too expensive.
The building at 77 Main St. consists of the original three-story school, built in 1922, and the one-story wing added in 1955, on about seven acres of land.
The school closed in 2008. The committee was formed in 2014 charged with trying to figure out if the building could be used as an annex for Town Hall, located across the street. At the time the school board was located in the one-story wing of the building, however deteriorating conditions have since forced a move to new offices at Terryville High School.
The committee originally considered moving the school board into the older section in order to remodel the wing into a new police station, Tellier said. “Now if we’re going to do something with the building it would be solely a police department facility.”
Tellier said the committee had engineering firm Silver Petrocelli and Associates come up with some rough costs for different options.
The first option was just demolish the building, which would cost about $3.9 million, including environmental cleanup, he said.
“We did some additional discussions with some environmental cleanup firms,” he said. “But there were certain things we didn’t look into because certain chemicals if you find them you have to get rid of them. So we kind of went the route of ‘let’s not look for them’ because if we find them the town is going to be on the hook for the cleanup right away.”
Option two was to demolish the 1922 section and remodel and add onto the 1955 wing, which would be about $7.88 million.
“The issues that we have there with remediation would still exist, whether we knocked down half the building or the whole building, so those costs really don’t go away,” Tellier said.
Option three would be to demolish everything and build something new there, which adds up to around $10 million.
Option four is to simply forget about 77 Main St. and look for another property in town to build a new police station. It would still cost about $4.8 million for the new police station, with about $500,000 to acquire the property, Tellier said.
He noted that the committee did consider if the police department could simply take over the downstairs floor at Town Hall to get the extra space it needs. However, the members concluded the way the building is laid out wouldn’t lend itself to that option.
“Our charge was to figure out what to do with that property across the street, and quite frankly we as a group said it’s not a practical solution to use it for the police department,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that the group doesn’t think that the police department needs help.”
“There should be another committee to take over where we left off and try and find a different solution for the police department,” he added.
“What are we going to do with that building?” Mayor David Merchant asked. “Our choices are to leave the building like it is and all it’s going to do is decay, rot, and be a hazard for somebody to get hurt in, or we’ve got to spend millions to tear it down or remodel it.”
“At some point we’re going to have to ask the townspeople, do you want to tear it down?” he added.
Council member Tom Zagurski praised the committee for its work and agreed that it doesn’t seem feasible at this time to remodel the old school or spend the money to tear it down.
As far as the police station, Merchant said there is always the possibility of Plymouth combining police dispatch centers with Wolcott and Thomaston, or even building one combined police station for all three towns.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.