With potential uses ranging from a tutoring center to youth sports to adult education and community programs, Peekskill school officials have indicated a desire to retain district ownership of the mothballed Uriah Hill school building and lease it, with the first tenants moving in as early as Sept. 1.
These and other possibilities were discussed Tuesday during a workshop meeting of the Board of Education. A resolution that the district retain ownership for at least five years and hire a leasing agent to market the building to prospective tenants is expected to be on the agenda of the board’s Feb. 14 business meeting. Meanwhile the district will compile a list of appropriate and inappropriate uses of the building and its grounds.
“Don’t sell it. It’s a great property, especially if we need more classrooms” to accommodate district growth, said board member Douglas Glickert, sentiments echoed by several colleagues.
Superintendent of Schools James Willis said the Pemart Avenue building might serve the district’s technology and alternative education programs along with youth programs and community groups. Board member Lisbeth Bock suggested a tutoring center (possibly in conjunction with other districts), adult education or an extension of the city’s downtown branch of Westchester Community College. Board member Michael Simpkins suggested youth sports, especially baseball and football. Glickert suggested welcoming some of the city’s parks and recreation programs.
Willis said the building is valued at $4.2 million with a prospective lease value of $9.50 per square foot (an earlier report listed the lease value at $19 per square foot). Gregory Sullivan, assistant superintendent for business, said the building costs the district $65,000 in annual minimal maintenance (an earlier report listed $90,000).
In response to a question from Simpkins about code issues, Sullivan said the building was in compliance for educational purposes but might need tweaking for office use. Willis noted, as an example, that the drinking fountains, positioned to accommodate young children, were a bit low for adults.
In addition to the anticipated Feb. 14 resolution the district’s next steps are to solicit bids from prospective leasing agents and to line up options for use of the building, board President Joseph Urbanowicz said.