HUDSON — The leader of the school district said he and the board of education facility representatives plan to make a recommendation next month on the reuse of the 1927 section of the former middle school building.
District superintendent Phil Herman said he hopes the recommendation will be made to the board of education by the end of January.
The district opened a new middle school structure in fall of 2020 and has, for several years, sought ways to preserve and reuse the portion of the old middle school building that was built in 1927 along Oviatt Street.
The section of the former middle school that was built between 1960 and 1970 was demolished in late summer and early fall.
More:Demolition begins at old Hudson Middle School
Both Liberty Development Co. and Hudson Heritage Association have offered ideas for how the building can be repurposed. Representatives from both organizations gave presentations at a school board work session on Nov. 22.
At that gathering, HHA asked the school board to wait for a year before deciding what to do with the historic building while HHA comes up with a plan to convert it into a community/cultural arts center.
If the community center idea was not considered feasible, HHA is asking the board to consider tearing the building down and exploring the potential of setting up an outdoor learning/cultural amphitheater center.
More:Hudson Heritage Association asks for 12 months to develop plan to preserve old school
Liberty has proposed keeping the facade of the building, but tearing down about 3/4 of the building and converting the remaining portion into five town homes. In addition, eight carriage homes would be constructed east of the building and an existing home on Oviatt would be renovated. The rest of the 1927 building would be torn down and additional living space and a two-car garage would be built on the back of each town home.
More:What will happen to the old Hudson Middle School building?
Herman said the district administration and the school board’s facility representatives will talk with both HHA and Liberty Development leaders in separate meetings in early January.
“The purpose of those meetings is to fully vet the proposals and discuss any remaining questions from board of education members or the administration regarding the implementation of what was proposed at the work session,” Herman said.
The administration and school board facility representatives will then share their recommendation with the full board by the end of January.
Board of education member Tom Tobin emphasized, “we are not going to be investing any significant additional funds in this building going forward. That’s been a principle we’ve had right from the beginning.”
Board of education member Alisa Wright said she participated in past meetings that discussed Liberty’s original proposal, which called for a higher number of town homes than the current proposal does. She recalled that residents expressed concerns about parking and traffic.
Wright noted that HHA was looking to host programs that could draw an audience of 500 to 1,000 people.
“I don’t think that’s an appropriate use for this building where this building is located,” Wright stated.
Board vice president Steve DiMauro said the district has spent a long time exploring various ways to preserve the building.
“I’m glad to see that we’re nearing an end and I think it’s probably appropriate, and I appreciate the efforts from Phil, as well as other members of the board,” DiMauro said.
Resident Claire Smith, who lives near the former middle school, said there were concerns about Liberty’s initial proposal, but added she felt the company’s follow-up plan addressed “99.9 % of all those concerns.”
She noted Liberty’s second proposal reduced the density, changed traffic access, and removed the houses on Oviatt that would’ve blocked the facade of the 1927 building.
“It was a really solid compromise plan,” said Smith, who urged the board to move forward with Liberty’s proposal.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.