Orchard Park Town Board members said they are still looking at the costs associated with buying the former Baker Road school and fixing it up for a senior/recreation center.
“We’re not talking about tens of thousands of dollars,” Councilman Eugene Majchrzak said at Wednesday’s Town Board meeting. “You do something like this, you’re talking about millions of dollars.”
Councilman David Kaczor said the board is taking the issue “very, very seriously.”
“We’re not going to slam dunk anything. We are looking at every possible cost,” he said.
The Town Board met behind closed doors last week with Michael Vaughan of Wendel, an engineering and architectural firm that examined the building to determine what work might need to be done before the town could use it.
The school was built for elementary students in 1976 and currently holds an Erie 2 Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES program. Most of the Orchard Park School District administrative offices were in the building until this summer, when the district moved into a building it bought and refurbished on Southwestern Boulevard. The last district employee is to move out of Baker Road by this fall.
“Although the school is in relatively decent condition, many of the building’s components are reaching the end of their useful life,” Supervisor Janis Colarusso said.
The examination did not thoroughly investigate any asbestos that might be in the school, but it did find mold in some parts of the building, she said. Colarusso also said the change in use from the school district to a senior/recreation center would require the building to be brought up to current building codes, including adding a sprinkler system. The next step is to get an appraisal of the building, she said.
“This Town Board believes an appraisal of the school will give us a true value of the monies that will be spent to purchase the school and then update it to code,” she said.
She said BOCES has indicated it would like to continue holding classes in the school, which would provide rental income.
Meanwhile, seniors continue to press for a center. Thomas Pieczynski, of Pawtucket Row, told board members Wednesday that other towns provide senior centers with plenty of room and amenities, such as adult day care, room for card games and fitness areas.
“East Aurora has physical fitness equipment. We have to bring our own weights,” he said, adding that youth in Orchard Park are provided with many recreation opportunities. “To call the situation unfair would be a big understatement. I don’t understand the ignoring of seniors, but I do know we vote.”
Kaczor said the town is “cautiously looking” at potential options, should the town not go forward with the Baker Road location.
“We want to do what’s best, not only for the seniors, but also for the taxpayers, and make sure we do spend the money wisely,” he said.