October 9, 2010 by Post Team
Orange City, ORANGE – In the decade of 1970, the Orange Board of Education gave a former primary school building, a structure of a century old in the Lincoln and Tremont Avenues, the city. And now you want the new building – this time at least and 1.
In a city council meeting Tuesday, Superintendent Ronald Lee and members of the Board of Education asked the city to return the building, now vacant for the district. Mayor Eldridge Hawkins Jr. said the city would like to redevelop the site as a way of generating income, but no decisions have been made yet.
“School can be a positive use of that site, and something that benefits our students has merit beyond any monetary value,” said Hawkins. “We can not go that without evaluating alternatives that can generate revenue.”
After the meeting gave the first school of Tremont Avenue in the city, the building was used as police headquarters from 1974 until 1999, when police went to the Justice Complex Polhill main streets and the park. Since then, the school was used as an emergency management site for the Sheriff’s Department Essex County, and has been vacant for less than a year.
The city was collecting about 100,000 a year and lease the building and maintenance costs and maintenance in the building are minimal, “said Hawkins. But the loss of revenue from the lease is important – about the cost of salaries of the four new firefighters said.
If a developer makes the city an offer profitable, revenue for the development of the property could be used to pay the salaries of police and firefighters, said Hawkins.
“The city must be careful what you do with all its assets and all options must be evaluated,” said Hawkins.
Melvin Randall, an attorney for the Board of Education, said he was a board member in late 1970 when the agreement was reached with the city for the property.
“He conveyed to the city and 1, and the understanding was that once the city is no longer needed the property, would return to the table and 1,” said Randall.
The quid pro quo for the low price is that the city would pass a bond ordinance to raise money for an extension for the new high school, he said.
Speaking at the council meeting Tuesday, Randall said he wanted to remind the present session of the council on the understanding of almost 40 years old, and now the building is vacant, would be an appropriate time for roll aboard property.
“That understanding was not in writing. It is assumed that this was a verbal understanding because nothing is written” he said.
Lee did not return calls for comment.
Hawkins said that the understanding has no legal basis, and that for all intents and purposes, the building is owned by Orange City.
“The building belongs to the city,” said Hawkins.
Randall said he would not speculate on what the service could be used for, but added that rising tuition fees meant the space is filled.
“The building is needed for educational purposes,” he said. “The city has a growing student population has grown and will continue to grow, and more facilities are needed.”
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