Hamilton is proposing to purchase three acres of the Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School property once it closes this school year, in order to preserve some of its recreation facilities for the neighbourhood.
“It will allow us to keep the Sir. Wilfrid Laurier Recreation Centre,” said Ward 5 councillor Chad Collins.
Pat Daly, Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) chair, said discussions about the city’s offer to buy the property are “ongoing.”
“We have received the city’s offer and we are considering it,” he said. “We will get back to them in a week or two.”
The city’s offer to the board, presented last December near the school board’s deadline, would allow Hamilton to buy only a portion of the 16.5 acre property. The school board declared the property surplus in May. The board extended the deadline for an offer to be made by the municipality until December.
Under the Education Act, school boards usually sell their properties whole rather than in pieces. Boards are required to seek fair market value for their properties.
“There is no requirement to sell only part of the property,” said Daly. “But we want to be good corporate partners, as long as we are able to get fair market value. We are open (to the three acre parcel).”
Compounding a possible real estate deal is the fact that the school board and the city’s share the recreation centre and other amenities. In addition, the utilities for the recreation facility are located in the school.
Collins estimates the city will pay anywhere from $1.2 million to $1.3 million for the property. Bishop Ryan, built in 1991, is scheduled to close in June.
Preserving the recreation centre has been the top priority for the Davis Creek Neighbourhood Association, which recently presented its action plan to the city. Still, residents remain concerned the city can’t keep the Bishop Ryan gym, which has become a vital in meeting the neighbourhood’s recreation needs.
“There will be a need to replace the gym,” said Collins. “We need land for it.”
But replacing the gym space will cost an additional $1 million to build another facility, he said.
Last May, the school board broke ground for a new $35-million Bishop Ryan school at Rymal Road at Upper Mount Albion Roadin Upper Stoney Creek. It is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013.