GREAT BARRINGTON -- The Selectmen have asked town manager Jennifer Tabakin to write a request for proposals for the sale or lease of the former Housatonic Elementary School.
The school was "mothballed" last year and is vacant. The town has wrestled with options for the building since before the completion of Muddy Brook Elementary School in 2003, which moved Housatonic students to that school.
The 1.8-acre parcel is primarily made up of the vacant school and the Housatonic Community Center. It served as the headquarters for the Berkshire Hills Regional School District for several years, before that group moved to the former Stockbridge Plain School.
In 2011, a task force recommended against razing the structure and suggested the town develop it. Estimates for the razing option topped $400,000, which caused the board to shy away from that.
The board last week charged Tabakin with writing an RFP with relatively broad parameters to encourage potential developers to look at the structure.
In addition, Chairman Deborah Phillips suggested the RFP allow for either the lease or purchase of the structure.
Tabakin agreed. "A lease arrangement would open up the market," she said. "A developer would need a lot of capital to buy and then renovate that building."
Initially, the talk between the board was to form a committee to review the RFPs. But Phillips and board member Sean Stanton opposed that.
"The selectmen should be the board that reviews the RFP," said Phillips.
Stanton said that finding a use for the school "should be our number one priority."
Member Stephen Bannon did suggest the building be cleaned up. There is still furniture and assorted junk in the building, he said.
"We might be able to do it with our own employees and a Dumpster," he said.
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