Last night, the Milford school board voted unanimously to sell the Milford Main property to the city of Milford, once the Milford Main building has been abated and demolished. Below are my comments from the Jan 21, 2016 school board meeting.
After more than a decade of evaluation, the board is voting tonight on the fate of the Milford Main School. This building has been an icon in Milford since it was built – and thus, this board and several boards prior to us have worked to find a solution that would allow the building to be saved and repurposed.
It is, unfortunately, no longer appropriate to be used as a school. The cost to abate and renovate is too high, and the needs of the district have changed. The board and administration have listened to the Milford schools community, which has expressed time and again that they want us to be efficient with their funds. We have taken that to heart, and we work to keep expenses as low as possible while still providing a high quality education. Investing extra funds into renovating Milford Main, as well as the extra expense to incorporate the building into district operations, would force us to increase the cost our district residents must pay. This is not a good solution.
We have listened to community input about Main in a variety of ways over a number of years, including formal community meetings, through the Business Advisory Council, at board meetings, via email, Facebook, even one-on-one at Kroger. Dr. Farrell and Mr. Johnson have spent hundreds of hours looking at and for options. We have heard dozens of ideas – and while many of those sound wonderful, they are not projects the school district can take on. Our mission is to educate students, not to create a community center or other project.
Unfortunately, of those dozens of ideas, only one previous proposal – the apartments to be built by CMC Properties – had funding behind it. That project did not pass zoning through the city of Milford. Since that time, about a year ago, we have once again heard many ideas. These came from realtors, architects, developers – but not one of them had sufficient funding.
Last week, the city of Milford submitted a proposal. However, recognizing the significant cost to abate and renovate the building, they want only the land. They would like the school district to abate and demolish the building, and then they will take ownership of the empty lot. The building cannot be placed on the historic register, which limits its value, and the city simply does not have the money to take on a project of that magnitude.
While I am thrilled to know someone sees a future for the site, this is not a happy decision to make. Even a few months ago, I hoped someone would step forward at the last minute with a plan and the money to save the building. That did not happen.
While it is not what any of us wanted, we have to now hope that the city of Milford will do their best to use that land to its highest use, to create something there that will be of benefit to Milford residents and the surrounding area, now and for the next hundred-plus years.