Panel seeks new uses for old school

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PERU — Nick Waugh volunteered or worked at the former Peru Elementary School for nearly 20 years before it was closed and youngsters moved to the new building in 2008.

He then served on a panel to try to find a use for the abandoned 70-year-old school, and now, he heads up an ad hoc committee to not only find uses for the two-story wood structure located in the downtown area, but to also find a way to make it self-sustaining.

The town accepted the building last year; now rules and procedures for its use are needed.

“It’s a community center for the town, but we are looking for other uses,” he said.

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Waugh, a technical specialist at the new $14 million elementary school located off Route 108, was chosen as the chairman of the selectmen-appointed, nine-member committee a couple of weeks ago.

That committee has met twice, so far, and expects to meet once or twice a month for the next few months.

Right now, the committee is working on a price structure for resident and non-resident use of the classrooms, gym and kitchen.

The committee is also working with the Peru Recreation Committee to organize fundraisers to pay for maintenance of the building. Two of the ad hoc committee members are also members of the Recreation Committee, so information is expected to flow easily, Waugh said. In addition, Selectman Tim Holland also sits on the Recreation Committee. The town sets aside a minimal amount of money that pays for utilities.

But maintenance is needed.

“The building is in pretty good shape. It’s ADA compliant, it’s wired for the Internet,” he said.

He’s thinking a Web site may eventually be set up for the building with a calendar that could list the dates and section of the building to be used by groups.

Public suppers and the annual Halloween Haunted House have been held there, and a Girl Scout troop regularly uses a portion of the old school.

The ad hoc committee is looking for suitable businesses that may use a portion of it, and are beginning to search for grants that could help pay for renovations or repairs.

Selectman Chairman Jim Pulsifer said residents will likely be asked to take action on an item dealing with the operation of the former school building during the annual town meeting set for June 8. The specifics have yet to be worked out, he said.

Other town-owned buildings

The former school building isn’t the only building the town is grappling with. A local resident has asked to use the former town office, located on the Peru Center Road, as the site for the Peru Historical Society, and another local man wants to acquire the former Rockemeka Grange Hall, also located in Peru Center, for a church he wants to establish.

Pulsifer said as the town meeting warrant is developed, decisions will likely be made on all three buildings now owned or managed by the town.

Some of those matters will be dealt with at the selectmen’s meeting set for 6 p.m., Monday, April 5, at the town office, which is now located in the detached addition to the former Peru school.

eadams@sunjournal.com

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