[VIDEO IN EXTENDED ARTICLE] For six years the Old Otisville Elementary School has sat vacant while the Town has tried repeatedly to bring in a number of organizations; including an assisted living community to buy and develop the property.
“The Town Board’s goal has always been to get that on the tax rolls,” said William Novak, Jr. R-Town of Mount Hope Supervisor.
But late last month, the Board approved an orthodox Jewish Congregation’s offer of $325,000 to buy the school.
“It kind of back us into the corner because the people said what about our offer we’ve been trying to buy this, is there a problem, so we kind of had to except their offer,” said Novak.
Now, many in the community are not happy with the town board’s decision.
“We began a petition to try and stop the sale of the school because it’s not going in the direction that we were told when it was sold the first time,” said Robert Ketcham, Petition Organizer.
Ketcham is collecting signatures hoping to bring the matter to residents for a vote.
“We didn’t think the school was going to be sold to any outside entity at all and it was going to stay in the community and before our own use in the community,” said Ketcham.
The congregation, which is part of the Satmar group, has not disclosed to the town what they plan to do with the school. But local officials say they believe it’s pretty clear what they plan to do with the building.
“We kind of have a feeling they’re talking about building a girls school up in Bloomingburg, they have property in Bloomingburg they’re looking at for a girls school, and we’re assuming this is probably going to be a boys school that they’re going to bus the kids in and out,” said Novak.
Ketcham has until December 25 to file the voter petition for referendum, in order to let voters decide if the school should be sold or remain in town hands.