Board of Education gives Riverside Avenue property back to town
WESTPORT — The property at 136 Riverside Ave. will again become the property of the town, after the school board voted to rededicate it Monday night.
It’s unclear what will become of the roughly half-acre property, which has been managed by the Board of Education for more than 15 years and is now valued at $1.2 million, though the town will look to sell the parcel and the building that sits upon it.
“I understand that it has been posted as residential and there is some discussion on the town side about perhaps a home office or some other uses, I don’t have a complete answer but that’s the information I’ve been provided,” said Superintendent Colleen Palmer, of the parcel’s future.
The board approved the rededication five votes to none — Chairman Michael Gordon and board member Mark Mathias were absent — but some parents of students at Saugatuck Elementary School, which is adjacent to the lot, expressed concern at the property’s future, especially of the school’s fields which abut the property.
“Who’s making sure that concerned parties understand the fields are for school uses only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.?” said Amy Peck, president of the Saugatuck Elementary School PTA.
Peck also raised the possibility of the future owners going through Planning and Zoning to rezone the property and build commercially on the property.
“Please don’t pass along the responsibility for its next phase. We ask that the Board of Education remain part of the conversation and part of the decision-making body to keep Saugatuck students and staff top of mind,” Peck added.
The building has previously been used to house the district’s administrative offices but more recently housed the technology department. In advance of the 2017-2018 budget cycle, Westport Schools was able to relocate its technology department and offered it to the town to offset budget expenses and to cut down on the utility, insurance and maintenance costs required to maintain the building, according to Palmer.
Board of Education member Elaine Whitney stressed that whoever the future owner, and whatever their plans, they would need to go back to the town and the public would be invited to weigh in.
After several years of uncertainty surrounding 136 Riverside, the board said it was time to act.
“We’re getting to that place where we have to put legs on it,” said board Vice Chairman Jeannie Smith.