Offers for renovation could not be accepted by district

Last updated: November 07. 2013 12:46PM - 1498 Views
CHARLOTTE BARTIZEK Dallas Post Correspondent

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The old Dallas Township High School building near the little league baseball fields, a landmark in the community for nearly 90 years, will be torn down.

Legal notices have been published seeking bids for the demolition of the old building, built some time between 1925 and 1927, and a tour for interested bidders was held Wednesday, Oct. 30. About 20 interested companies toured the building.

According to Dallas School District Superintendent Frank Galicki, the decision has already been made by the Dallas School Board to take down the structure.

“It’s been vacant since the middle to late 80s and time takes a toll,” Galicki said. “We are not 100 percent sure what we’ll do with the extra land, probably more playing fields used jointly by the school district and the Little League.”

The Back Mountain Little League Association is delighted with the opportunity, but some in the community are not and wonder why the school district did not take offers in 2008 and again in 2010 to renovate and lease the building as office space, a day care facility and dormitory rooms for Misericordia University students.

In 2010, the university, along with Radnor Properties, of Wayne, PA, offered to renovate and lease back the building from the Dallas School District, using the first floor as a Hildebrandt Learning Center day care and the upper floors as dormitory residents for education major students, a source close to Misericordia University said.

Parking space and the athletic fields would have been left intact and Dallas Township would have received approximately $6 million in tax revenues for the length of the 50-year lease.

Peter Caulkins, chief engineer and facilities project manager at Misericordia, remembers touring the old school building with a Radnor representative and a Dallas School District representative in 2010 with the purpose of renovation and restoration in mind.

The renovations would have been historically accurate and would have brought the building up to code.

What was the reason the Dallas School Board voted against such a seemingly attractive and sensible offer?

“The board was cognizant of it all; the feasibility of the project was questioned. There were problems with water, plumbing, asbestos. The place was in rough shape - and offers are offers,” Galicki said.

Mark Kraynack, Superintendent of Building and Grounds for the Dallas School District, thinks the old school is “a real money pit,” not an historic building and that the school board did not want to get “legally” involved in the project.

Dallas School Board legal counsel Attorney Ben Jones says the state of Pennsylvania public school code “discourages any district from leasing property” because school property is owned by the public and a school district should not be a landlord or leasor.

The exception to this is the athletic fields which are leased to the Back Mountain Little League Association on a short-term year-to- year basis.

In July or August 2010, the Dallas School Board voted against considering the offer from Misericordia University and Radnor Properties.

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