Tuesday night, the Board of Selectmen approved a $463,100 appropriation – paid almost entirely by a state grant - to knock down Cohanzie Elementary School.
Cohanzie School, located at 44 Dayton Road, has sat vacant since its students were moved into the renovated Quaker Hill Elementary School in 2008. The appropriation would go to remediating and then demolishing the building.
from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development in March of 2012, which should pay for almost all of the demolition. The building needs to go because the property is worth more without it than with it, Waterford First Selectman Dan Steward said.
“Options for reuse of the property will improve with the demolition,” Steward wrote in a letter presented to the Board of Selectmen. “A recent appraisal of the property indicated it was more valuable without the building.”
The proposal still needs to be approved by the Waterford Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting, and then be bid out, Steward said. If approved, the hope is the building would be demolished by the end of summer, he said.
Steward said the town will look to sell the property once the building is demolished. He has said he hopes to have the property turned into senior housing or into a mixed-use development, which would have a mixture of low-traffic retail and housing.
When it was first vacated, the town asked the neighbors of the school to form a committee and figure out what they wanted at the property. The neighbors agreed they didn’t want high-traffic retail, but instead something that would have little impact on the community.
Waterford Town Historian Bob Nye had the building put on the state’s historical register this past summer. The town will now have to build some exhibit honoring Cohanzie School, including some photos of the building constructed in 1923.
In 2011, Steward tried to get a grant to turn the property into an AHEPA housing complex, which is housing for low-income seniors. That grant didn’t come through, but Steward said he would still be interested in turning the property into an AHEPA.
“AHEPA is still a potential candidate,” he said. “First, we need to get the building down.”