2/09/2010

School Reuse

Posted by MJ

The Lockport School District reveals which school it is looking to close tomorrow. Over the weekend I had planned on doing some research on school reuse but never really got around to it. An internet search revealed a surprisingly large amount of instances of municipalities trying to firgure out what to do with old schools.

A few are:
Portland Maine
Washington DC
Kasson City

A lot of them reference reuse studies. I hope the school district and the city have something lined up for discussion of the fate of the closed building. My initial thoughts are an old school in a real estate market such as Lockport will most likley hold a negative net worth for any use beyond a school. While it would be nice for the district to see some money from the transaction the greater gain, (or loss) in worth will be experienced by the neighborhood around the structure. The city and district should see that something is set up to promote a reuse. A boarded building or if demoed, an empty lot will most likely see a run similar to the 30yr one of the South Block. But what should the reuse be?

If they close Washington Hunt, I'd be happy if the hospital took responsibility for it and its upkeep. Use it for future expansion of outpatient services or for 3rd party medical office space.

If they close John Pound, I'd be happy if the city were to work with a local developer to transition the structure to residential. Yahoo, Inlighten, and other companies will most likely contain a demographic of people looking for newer up to date loft-type living. It is one block from S. Transit and 3 blocks from Main. As far as I know the city (nor the town) can not offer anything like that. An example from Buffalo is here.

Is Charlotte Cross considered a "school" in this discussion? If closed I could see it as the new location of the Lockport Police Dept. It has been known that the police are looking for a space of their own (like a portion of the old Harrison plant) in light of the space squeeze going on at city hall. Why not adapt an old school on a main city street? They could also keep the gym open for some youth programs.

I tried to stick to something that would fulfill an existing need without adding new cost loads (such as stand alone community centers, etc.) Any other initial thoughts out there?

We shall see what the city or district has to say tomorrow night.

Update 02/11/10.
LUSJ reporting no decision yet.
Buffalo News reporting possible two schools could be closed

5 comments:

Rocketboy said...

WLVL is reporting that definatally one will close, possibly two.

No word on any sort of reduction or canceling of an automatic wage increase for teachers, or school board members.

No word on where that huge surplus from a few years back went either.

I wonder if they would have had to close 3 schools if they decided to build the new sports complex at LHS.

MJ said...

Yes, I just noticed the Buffalo News reported on it also.

The surplus audit summary here:
http://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/dec08/120408.htm

Do you think the school district employess would choose a unilateral wage deduction (like some private companies did) or the closing of some schools and reduction in their numbers (like some companies did)if offered the choice?

I can accept a school closure, even if it is the one down the street form me, if there is a comprehensive plan laid out for reuse. I would hate to lose the one by me but sometimes change needs to be had. How do we navigate that change? How do we turn it into an opportunity for something else?

Also it would nice to see a semi-detailed breakdown of the school budget so we could make some informed comments/desicions. I did not see one offered on the district website.

http://www.lockportschools.wnyric.org/lockportschools/site/default.asp

Eric Robert Jackson said...

Lockport already has an old school that was reused. About 20 years ago my father helped with the conversion. The school was converted into apartment spaces. I remember it being really nice inside, at the time. I drive by it now and I wonder if it's still in good shape. It's on the corner of Gooding and Williams Streets.

MJ said...

Thank you for the reminder Eric.

Here it is:
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=18+william+st+lockport+ny&oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=18+William+St,+Lockport,+Niagara,+New+York+14094&ei=mYt1S6OJH43C-QbNyKioCA&ved=0CAoQ8gEwAA&ll=43.180493,-78.691741&spn=0.002245,0.004629&t=h&z=18

I've driven by it a couple times and wondered about the history. Not sure about the inside, but with some full size windows (or at least not plywood filled) and the front yard not paved over it would be a cute place from the street.

lucky red hat said...

Thoughts that come to mind(as the times and people appear indifferent) How about a retraining center? For those that are out of work. Say teaching environmentally responsible spray foam insulation, with complete home weather proofing courses. With the cost of today's heating bills. The money spent insulating today, will save money for say our food in the future.

The general classroom size with a gym, kitchen and a auditorium. Would be great for a county wide resource center.

Or even offer the space for the Armed Services Recruiters. With the police department sharing the square footage. Plenty of parking, with very well made buildings.

Or maybe a Goodwill/ Salvation Army style retraining, rehab center.

A nice thought is a drop off site for items to be resold for a possible Lockport, Habituate for Humanity Center. With all of the old burned out lots around town, I think there is room for a few new homes...

Just consider if the city could break even with one of the old schools. Then train say a few hundred future tax payers for our City. Sure beats broken windows followed by the demolition cost to tear the school down.

Owning a home on the same street as one of the for-mentioned schools. You can get used to the sound of happy kids at play. Though for those out of work, loosing hope with too much time on there hands... Well bad habits, drugs and gangs soon follow.


These thoughts were not posted, to be little any present Lockport NY retail space. That may offer any of the above type amenities. You see many of us found a mentor who showed us the way to better future. Just as the UAW hall was the school that my parents attended in back in the day.

God Bless, Good night.

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