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What will Amenia Elementary actually cost the town?


Staff Reporter


AMENIA — During the Town Board meeting Thursday, March 19, Supervisor Wayne Euvrard reported a rough estimate of what he believed would be the annual cost to maintain the Amenia Elementary School building.

As has been previously reported, the Webutuck Board of Education voted during its March 9 meeting to close the school, and proposed to "give" (at the cost of $1) the building to the town of Amenia, which is interested in using it for a permanent Town Hall. Since the building is not being sold at fair market value, a districtwide taxpayer vote would be required.

Since then, several public comments have been made at Town Board meetings questioning whether the town really understands the costs of maintaining such a significantly larger structure. Currently, Town Hall is located on the bottom floor of the Amenia Firehouse. The town pays the fire company $30,388 in rent each year.

At the most recent Town Board meeting, Euvrard brought with him one of the Webutuck Key Communicator e-mails that district Superintendent Richard Johns has published on the potential closing on the Amenia and Millerton elementary buildings. This particular letter outlined the costs associated with keeping the Amenia building up and running.

The current Town Hall is approximately 8,000 square feet, Euvrard said, and costs a little under $50,000 for rent, heat, maintenance and electricity.

The Amenia Elementary School building is about 25,000 square feet, and Euvrard estimated about $80,000 in costs annually. However, he acknowledged that some of those numbers are rough estimates at best.

Councilman Joel Pelkey added that fuel prices have dropped considerably since last year, and so the cost associated with heating the building have probably dropped.

"Three times the space for $30,000 more a year is good," Euvrard said. "I think it’s a win-win."

If the town were able to rent out some of its space, that would be another plus. Attorney to the Town Michael Hayes pointed out that Pawling rents out part of its Town Hall to a hair salon. Euvrard was surprised that private businesses would be allowed, and that information could mean wider possibilities as far as finding tenants.

During public comments, resident Pat Nelligan said he had attended the previous Board of Education meeting and there was only one resident still opposed to the decision to close Amenia Elementary.

"Once we get the property, we can do whatever we want with it," he said. "It’s a historic structure that is basically the heart of Amenia."

As far as concerns that the Amenia Fire Company would run into financial trouble without the town paying rent, Nelligan added that "no one’s going to abandon the fire company," and that he would even support continuing the pay the $30,000 rent for a few years to keep the department on its feet.

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