PEPPERELL — Another request from selectmen of the North Middlesex Regional School District for a detailed plan for closure of the Peter Fitzpatrick School has generated an e-mail from Business Manager Gerald Martin offering to pay the town $30,000, fill the oil tanks, and turn the building over by Oct. 9.
Obviously insufficient, selectmen voted unanimously to request another joint meeting with superintendent Maureen Marshall, advising her to “come prepared.”
Martin’s e-mail also offered the town availability of heating oil at the district’s contracted price of $2.11 per gallon.
The $30,000 is what remains from $40,000 the school district set aside for the closure. Where the other $10,000 was spent is “somewhere we don’t know,” said Town Administrator Robert Hanson.
The town owns the building. A lease agreement with the school district was found two months ago.
Hanson reported that the latest estimate to move the PFS playground to the Varnum Brook School, which now houses all elementary-level students, would cost about $20,000. If moved, the money would come from the $30,000.
“I asked about the cost of electrical use in July. It was just under $1,000,” Hanson said, “about 3,033 kilowat hours.”
Chairman Joseph Sergi asked how the winterizing process is going. Hanson said it is still on the table “but the $30,000 won’t even cover the cost of (keeping) sprinklers (functioning).”
“This puts the cost on the town. Maureen (Marshall) originally agreed we would have no operating costs to actually drain and close the building,” Sergi said.
Hanson said the Fire Department and building inspector did not like the idea of using glycol antifreeze in closed drains, feeling it would cost more than $30,000.
“(The school district) committed to get something,” Hanson said.
“Bottom line there is not nearly enough money to close the building and this will cost the town,” selectman Patrick McNabb reiterated. “My goal is minimal cost.”
“Yes,” Sergi agreed, “and when we have a structural deficit of $500,000 already. How can we afford it?”
Hanson reminded there is requirement to have someone walk through the building two or three times a week to check on it. The walk-throughs may not be needed if glycol is used. If it isn’t, there will be issues, he said.
“That’s down the road,” Sergi said, “but it was agreed we’d get a buttoned-down building.”
“I suggest we reject this offer and we ask for a detailed proposal as requested (before) rather than have these guessing games,” McNabb said.
“Why do we need that? They agreed to close the building,” Sergi said.
“We can go that way, but is there a need to try to help them out?” McNabb asked.
“If we have the money. At some point we’ll own all of it,” Sergi responded.
Sergi said the next step following a meeting with Marshall is determining just what the closure will cost the town.