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Woman starts effort to save Waterford's Cohanzie School from demolition

Waterford - A Quaker Hill woman has started an effort to save the former Cohanzie School from demolition, a building she has called the "hub" of Cohanzie.

The group, Save Our Cohanzie School, consists mainly of Kathleen Reagan's family members but she's hoping to change that at a Tuesday public meeting to garner support for saving the 85-year-old school.

"I don't want to wake up one morning and have someone say the building is down," Reagan said on Friday. "We're trying to revisit the whole repurposing aspect of the building because there are so many reasons to save it. I'm angry at myself that I waited for so long, but my heart's been broken. I just assumed you can't do anything once the process has been started, but I don't feel that way anymore."

The group is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the Waterford Public Library.

Reagan said she doesn't expect those interested in coming to the meeting to "open their wallets" but does expect a sharing of thoughts, input and ideas for a use of the school. She also expects a SOCS presence at Board of Selectmen meetings.

The town's delay of demolition ordinance could buy the group some time, but the clock is ticking.

"I'm concerned about a delay of demolition. I know it's late in the process and it hasn't happened yet but the building is still standing, so we can do this," Reagan said.

Town Clerk Robert Nye said Friday that First Selectman Daniel Steward filed an application for a demolition permit last week.

"I guess they're going ahead with the delay of demolition part early, but we still have work to do," Nye said, mentioning that a documentation of the school's historic value must take place before it is torn down and an exhibit be established in the library.

According to the town's delay of demolition ordinance, the applicant, within seven days of the town's receipt of the application for the demolition permit, must notify owners of all property within 150 feet of the school by certified mail.

A legal notice of the application for the demolition of the building must be published in a newspaper on a Saturday within 14 days after receiving the application for the demolition permit.

Prior to the issuance of the permit, a sign announcing the application for a permit to demolish the building must be placed on the school property and remain there for at least 30 days before the permit is issued.

If written objection to the issuance of the permit is filed with the town's building department and is mailed by first class mail to the applicant within 30 days following the town's receipt of the application, the town will delay issuing the demolition permit for 60 days, provided, according to the application, that the objecting party presents another alternative.

If no objection to the demolition of the school is filed with the town within 30 days after the application is received, the town may issue the permit.

"This is a hub, a tie to the community," Reagan said. "We need community, we need kids to grow up in the community. When you take away landmarks and ties people no longer care and this is valuable."

If you go

What: Save Our Cohanzie School information meeting

When: Tuesday, 5 p.m.

Where: Waterford Public Library, 49 Rope Ferry Road


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