Board of Ed not interested in Edgerton property
Published 2:56 pm, Thursday, May 9, 2013
In October, the senior center on Edgerton Street will lay dormant.
Once a bustling school, and currently a senior center, the boards of Selectmen and Education are considering whether the building should be re-purposed.
The Board of Education plans to officially announce that it will not pursue acquisition of the property.
The Board of Selectmen has not made clear what is to happen with the building following that announcement.
As a result, the building will be boarded up, and will await demolition or a new purpose.
"It there is no alternative to use the building, whether it be temporarily or permanently, I think we would move to demolish the building," said First Selectman Jayme Stevenson.
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The Board of Selectmen would need to go before the Board of Finance to request funds for the demolition if that were the case.
"We don't want any empty facilities to create any safety hazards and we would get right to work," Stevenson said. "Empty buildings are not good for the community. I don't think that the neighbors would want that."
"As a neighbor and RTM member, we would be disappointed with the decision to let the building stay dormant and not demolish it," said Derek Liblum, who lives on Edgerton Street and is also a member of the Middlesex Middle School and Neighborhood Association. "We have been led to believe that there are adequate funds to care of the demolition without having to add costs to next year's taxes."
Superintendent Stephen Falcone said at the April 10 Board of Education meeting that the building at 30 Edgerton Road would not be the "quickest solution" to address the growing enrollment in the schools, which is why it would forgo the property and instead move forward with two building projects at Tokeneke and Royle elementary schools.
Outside parties have suggested that the building be demolished and new athletic fields be built to address the need for more field space for Darien's youth sports leagues, but Mark Maybell, the treasurer for the Darien Athletic Fund, said the organization has not had any conversations with the Board of Education about converting the land. The DAF recently announced a $7.5 million project to improve the available field space in town.
Others have come forward with different proposals for the land. Last year, the Darien Senior Housing Initiative suggested demolishing the building to construct 20 affordable senior living houses at no cost to the town.
The private volunteer group must await the Board of Education's official decision about the Edgerton property before moving forward once again.
"We're still very excited about the prospect about adding much-needed housing for allowing our seniors to remain in town," said Bruce Hill, a member of the Senior Housing Initiative. "But ultimately we must be guided by the real policy makers in town."
The Senior Housing Initiative will take its cue from the Board of Selectmen, Hill said.
"We have no authority other than to take direction from the Board of Selectmen," Hill said. "What we did was come up with the proposal we thought fulfilled the need for senior affordable housing and was consistent with the shuffle, which has been vetted and approved."
The proposal, which includes the construction of 20, 1,100-square-foot senior affordable housing units, has not gone any further than preliminary plans and discussions with surrounding neighbors.
A recurring concern among town officials is that an empty building can be an open invitation for intruders.
To address the possibilities of break-ins, extra patrols of the area will be initiated on a random basis, according to Capt. Frederick Komm, a police spokesman.