By Mike Pearson, News staff
A pair of former Ancaster schools could be on the auction block as early as July, 2014 when the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is slated to open its new central mountain education centre.
Maple Lane School at 20 Miller Drive and Memorial School at 357 Wilson St. E have been declared surplus to the board’s needs. Both schools are expected to be offered to a list of preferred agencies during a 90-day disposition process. Preferred agencies include other school boards, colleges and universities and the City of Hamilton.
Both closed schools currently host administrative activities that will be relocated to the new education centre in 2014.
School board communications officer Rob Faulkner said that while the board will attempt to sell the school sites to a preferred buyer, the board is required to seek fair market value.
“At the end of the 90-day period, if the board does not receive a bona fide offer from a preferred agent then the board will seek Ministry approval to sell the properties through a tender process,” Faulkner stated in an email.
Maple Lane closed in June, 2005 and was replaced by Ancaster Meadow School. Memorial School saw its last students in 1979.
Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson has proposed a plan to purchase the Memorial building using the Ancaster reserve fund. But during his monthly Ancaster Community Committee meeting, Ferguson acknowledged the $1.5 million currently sitting in the reserve would likely be insufficient to cover the cost of the 1.7-hectare site.
He points to the Grange model, which resulted in the creation of a passive park at Ancaster’s former Grange School, with a remaining portion sold to a homebuilder.
“It’s unfortunate that taxpayers have to pay for it twice,” said Ferguson, who noted the school board cannot simply give the land to the city.
Ferguson said he would like to see the Memorial site used for parkland, seniors housing and additional parking for the Ancaster Business Improvement Area.