Groton RTM decides to 'give the Noank Village people a chance' with former school building

Groton - The Representative Town Meeting voted Wednesday night not to spend $370,000 to demolish the former Noank School.

"I don't know what the big rush is to tear down this school," said Rep. Genevieve Cerf. She said town officials should meet with the Village of Noank and Noank Zoning Commission and come up with a business plan first.

"We should give the Noank Village people a chance to come up with something, maybe a compromise solution," she said.

The RTM voted 32-5 to appropriate zero for the demolition.

The Town Council had voted April 23 to appropriate $370,000 to cover the estimated cost of razing the school and removing an underground fuel tank. Councilors also earlier rejected a plan by the Noank Fire District to refurbish the school and seek state grant money for the project.

Town Manager Mark Oefinger said Wednesday there was no additional cost to keep the building intact. The fuel tank doesn't have to be removed until 2017, he said.

But Rep. Alicia Bauer argued the building is an eyesore.

She said she remembered the school when it was used as a senior center and added that she doesn't know how students made it through the last few years in such a "crumbly" building.

"It's icky," she said. "And it may be of no cost particularly to keep it, but you're never going to use it."

Rep. Lynn Crockett Hubbard said she took offense to calling it "icky." She said her children attended the school, and she's fond of it. She said she'd never support turning the land into commercial property.

"Let's not hastily sell that property and develop it into condos. It's beautiful," she said.

Oefinger said the council's intention was to hold onto the property as public recreation space.

Noank School, built in 1949 and closed in 2007, is one of five former schools that are either vacant, being used for other purposes or being renovated.

d.straszheim@theday.com

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