Sullivan School Proposal Heads Back to Mayor
The potential sale of Sullivan School was punted back to the mayor's office on Tuesday.
iBerkshires.com reports, short two councilors and with not enough votes to pass, the seven councilors agreed to hold off until more information could be provided about the plans for an advanced manufacturing school to be located at the site.
The referral was advised by Finance Committee members Marie T. Harpin and Wayne Wilkinson, who had raised questions the members of Berkshire Advanced Manufacturing Training and Education Center, or BAMTEC, couldn't answer at their meeting last week.
Mayor Thomas Bernard, who had chosen the training school proposal over another prospect ($50,000 by Eric Rudd to turn it into artist studios), said the backers of the school had provided what had been asked for in the request for proposals.
The council had declared Sullivan, along with Johnson School, the Pownal, Vt., watershed land and several other properties as surplus some time ago. Because the offer was lower than the assessed price, the mayor needed authority to negotiate from the council, as was done for the Pownal land and Johnson School.
Those proposing the school say they only got started in organizing a couple months ago after several years of discussion. But when the request went out for proposals for Sullivan School, they felt they couldn't pass up the chance. They offered $1 for the 50-year-old school but expected to invest up to $14 million in renovations and equipment.
Harpin and Wilkinson were joined by Councilor Jason LaForest in expressing concerns over timelines, financing and zoning, as part of the proposal had referenced maker spaces and there was talk last week of companies using the equipment. Councilors Eric Buddington, Joshua Moran and Paul Hopkins seemed more inclined to move forward.
Councilors Benjamin Lamb and President Keith Bona again stepped down because of relationships with both responses to the RFP and Councilor Rebbecca Cohen took the gavel for a second time.
"When I look at unloading these properties, to me, these properties cost us money as a city and I would like to see them kind of taken off our hands sooner than later," said Moran. "I do think we can take risk but at the same time a year or two down the road, it's getting into the same thing that we need to put another roof on it? We have water damage, and now we have a building again, that's falling apart."
Hopkins pointed out that council wouldn't even be reviewing the proposal if the assessed value -- some $2 million -- had been offered.
Harpin and LaForest, however, questioned the need for the training center, saying they had taken a tour of McCann Technical School and been impressed by the programming for adults, including advanced manufacturing and welding.