Holley school district supports plans to redevelop old high school

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 28 April 2016 at 12:00 am

Kendall and Holley also will meet to discuss shared services

Photos by Kristina Gabalski – The old Holley High School has been vacant for more than two decades.

HOLLEY – Members of the Holley Board of Education were updated during their regular meeting Tuesday evening regarding the status of the old Holley High School building in the village.

School district attorney Jeff Martin informed board members about recent efforts by Home Leasing, LLC of Rochester to acquire the building, which was constructed in the 1931 and was last used by the district in 1975. Home Leasing wants to turn it into senior housing with 26-30 units.

Martin explained that a major obstacle – sorting out title issues – may be overcome with recent news that, “Orleans County will get involved.”

The county will likely foreclose on the property, Martin explained, and that would facilitate cleaning up title issues.

“It would be a benefit to the whole community,” Martin said of the possible development of the building.

The old Holley High School does contain asbestos, Martin noted. It has sat unused since the early 1990s when Lift Tech Systems, which had owned and utilized the building, declared bankruptcy. The owner of the property died suddenly following that, Martin said. The building has been off the tax rolls for several years.

Martin said he attended a meeting in March regarding the school and was asked to see if school board members were receptive to moving forward with the possible development. He explained that a 15-year PILOT agreement may be offered to developers, which would mean that tax revenue would again be generated from the site.

This photo shows the back side of the building.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Martin said, and noted the Orleans Economic Development Agency would likely be involved due to the expense of renovations. He said much time still needs to go into developers acquiring the property and renovation work. “It could take a couple of years,” Martin said.

School Board members expressed their approval of the process moving forward.

In other business, Superintendent Robert D’Angelo reported that he had recently been contacted by Kendall Central School Superintendent Julie Christensen, who requested a joint meeting of both boards, superintendents, high school principals and business officials be held sometime this summer. The meeting would be to, “discuss shared services across the board… it would not be restricted to athletics,” D’Angelo said.

The districts agreed this spring to field a combined baseball team, and D’Angelo noted that agreement is working well. He said Tuesday evening football and wrestling have been mentioned as other sports where the districts could form a merged team.

Currently, Kendall does not have a football team.

He said both districts/school boards sitting down at one table will be, “a positive thing for both of us. I look forward to meeting with Kendall during the summer. There are so many things we can do for students in the classroom if we join forces. They are just a hop, skip and a jump away. It’s definitely an advancement for us and them.”

“It would benefit both districts,” school board vice-president Robin Silvis said.

“In the long term I see us sharing a lot of different things,” board member John Heise said.

Additionally, Superintendent D’Angelo said Holley is meeting on Friday with its counterparts in the Pembroke Central School District to talk about football.

“I will not let the distance interfere with our kids having a good program,” he said.