PLYMOUTH - The Town Council heard a proposal Wednesday from regional education service center EdAdvance to purchase and renovate Main Street School.
EdAdvance Executive Director Jeff Kitching and Chief Operations Officer Rich Carmelich presented a slideshow detailing the proposal. Kitching said the purchase price of the building is still being negotiated.
Main Street School has sat abandoned since 2008. The 33,000-square-foot building was built in 1922 as a three-story building. Another wing was added in 1955.
Town Attorney Bill Hamzy introduced the guests from EdAdvance and summed up what they had in mind for the school.
“The building will maintain the same use as an educational facility; nobody would be housed here,” he said. “EdAdvance has proposed significant improvements and the building will be used again. There will be life in the building, which is in one of the main entryways to our community. This is a positive for the community.”
Before laying out EdAdvance’s plan, Kitching provided some background on the nonprofit organization. He said it is one of six service centers around the state and has been around for 50 years.
“We hear more and more about this push to regionalization and that’s why we were created,” said Kitching. “We help provide districts with more cost-efficient programs. We provide adult education, technology and special education services in the region.”
EdAdvance covers 32 communities and 29 school districts. Each of those districts can send a representative to serve on EdAdvance’s board. They serve 36,000 students.
“We have invested considerable capital resources into finding a space to develop our programs,” said Kitching.
EdAdvance plans to use the currently empty school at 77 Main St. to create a regional center for special education students that will serve 20 to 25 students in preschool through fifth grade. This may later be expanded to 35 to 40 students as the space is renovated.
The center will focus on behavioral, social and emotional needs of young students. It will provide additional support services for elementary-age students with autism and it will establish office and meeting spaces for professional employees and related service supports throughout the region.
EdAdvance plans to preserve historic exterior portions of the school where possible. It will remove the wooden covered structures, upgrade and refinish the walls, repair and repave the parking lot and remove trees and tree limbs around the front and sides of the building to protect the roof.
The proposal also calls for environmental testing and site remediation, HVAC replacement, roof repair and replacement, window frame repair, plumbing repairs and reconfiguring, electrical system upgrades where needed, replacing all flooring and ceilings and reconfiguring room spaces.
The lot would be separated so the ball field and playground area would remain town property. The parking lot is included in the purchase.
The proposal suggests coming to an agreement with the town where EdAdvance would have use of the fields during the school day and the town could use them during off-hours, evenings and weekends.
Two residents spoke during the public hearing on the proposal, one in favor and one against.
Bill Ogonowski said he was in favor of it.
“It sounds great to me,” he said. “It sounds like this will be a tremendous resource for the town and a very appropriate use of a now dormant building. I am impressed with this proposal, especially the cosmetic improvements. We could use that. This sounds like a win-win all the way around.”
Melanie Church said she was “completely opposed” to the plan.
“We had a chance to get a grocery store, a pharmacy and an elderly daycare center in this building,” she said. “Now we are looking at zero tax dollars. This does not increase our tax base.”
Church referred to a proposal last month by Bristol lawyer Alfred Morrocco Jr. to purchase the building for $395,00.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.