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Village of Richville wants to buy, then sell, former school

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RICHVILLE — St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services is preparing to transfer ownership of a former school to the village, which plans to sell it.

“We’re in negotiations with BOCES right now,” said Mayor Ella Mae “Blue Jay” Fenlong. “I’m guessing it could happen anytime now.”

The building — once an elementary school for Gouverneur Central School — was used by BOCES for an alternative education program and more recently to house health insurance administrators. The building has been vacant since BOCES renovated a former nursing home in Canton for its offices.

A deal was struck long ago for BOCES to give the village the first shot at the building for $1 if it was no longer needed, Ms. Fenlong said.

“The big reason we want it is the back of the property connects to our park,” she said. “It has a ball field.”

If the village has ownership, it could split off the land — which is less than an acre — join it to the park and then sell the building, Ms. Fenlong said. Whatever money the village makes would go toward a beautification project or into the park, she said.

“If we made a few thousand dollars, we’d be happy,” she said.

The transfer is proceeding as planned, said BOCES Superintendent Thomas R. Burns.

“Both attorneys have reviewed it,” he said. “Everything looks ready to go.”

Not everyone favors village ownership of the building, however.

Bonnie G. Raymo, a former mayor, voiced her worry the village could end up stuck with a white elephant, particularly if the building requires asbestos abatement or taxpayers have to pay to fix a leaking roof and make other repairs.

“If we get stuck with it, it could bankrupt our village,” she said.

However, Ms. Fenlong said the building is generally in good shape.

“It’s way better than I would have thought it would be,” she said. “Whoever gets it would get a heck of a building. The last thing I would want is to burden the village.”

Putting the building back on the tax roll could mean an assessment of $500,000 added to the village’s overall value, she said.

Several people have expressed interest in the building but no one has made a commitment, Ms. Fenlong said.

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