The Tonawanda City Board of Education unanimously approved a $220,000 offer from a developer for its Central School building Tuesday evening, but some community members are disappointed the city didn’t show any interest in acquiring the building to use as a community center.
The building was sold to developer David Capretto, who plans to convert the space to apartments. The sale is contingent on the approval of city residents, who will vote on the referendum May 21.
However, representatives of a community interest group considering the future of the building still advocated for a city takeover of the property, even though the city has already rejected two offers from the district about the building.
Gail Syposs, chairwoman of the Common Council-appointed community group, said she doesn’t fault the Board of Education for its action but thinks the city is reconsidering their decision after some Council members walked through the building last month.
“They had the impression that the building was in bad condition,” said Syposs. “It’s far from it.”
Syposs listed ways the city could use the space as a community center, such as an after-school program and senior citizen area.
“We’re the only [area municipality] who doesn’t have a community center, and I think it’s criminal,” Syposs said.
“The city was a no,” said board member Sharon Stuart. “Who knows if we will get another offer that gives us this lease agreement.
The district also would lease space from the new owner for about $7,500 a year over a two-year period. Files and other equipment would be stored at Central over that time, and officials expect to be able to have enough empty space at other buildings by the end of the two-year term.
Board member Robert Starr, who also sits on the community group, was concerned that the climate-controlled equipment preserving the district’s records may cost as much as $200,000 to replicate in another building.
“It could create a fiscal disaster for the district, and that is a cause of concern,” he said. Superintendent James Newton said the high school is air conditioned to help care for the records.