The Putnam Examiner

District, Village Mull Over Garden Street School Possibilities

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Last week the Village of Brewster released a report conducted by Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress that suggest several possible usages for the closed Garden Street School (GSS). The Brewster School District is partnering with the village on developing future scenarios for the school that closed its doors to the students last June.

The 22-page report, which was done as commissioned by the Village of Brewster last August, analyzes the circumstances of the property and suggests several options for the potential adaptive reuse of the GSS. HVPFP acknowledges that the GSS property lends itself to an adaptive reuse based on the group’s findings.

The report suggests that the school could be adequately used for affordable housing, a film production studio and performing arts center, a local charter school or private boarding school, a satellite campus of a 4-year college institution/trade school or an assisted living facility.

However, the Garden Street School which was constructed in 1925 with additions in 1939, also has challenges. The building is outdated and there are environmental concerns related to hazardous materials such as lead paint and asbestos.  Additionally two of the 15 parcels that the property sits on have deed restrictions that limit their use to education only purposes.

“The ‘Plan A’ route would be to have the building retro-fitted for some contemporary usage that complements where the Master Plan for the Village itself is going,” said Dr. Stephen Jambor, president of the Brewster Board of Education.

The district is also willing to consider short-term rentals, such as what the Yorktown School District is doing with its French Hill Elementary School.

“Short-term rental would be an idea from the ‘Plan B’ list,” said Jambor. “At this point, we are very invested in doing all that we can to maximize the realization of Plan A first and foremost.”

The decision on what to do with GSS is part of an on-going discussion. HVPFP recommends doing something with the building sooner rather than later.

“The longer the Garden Street School remains vacant and unused, deterioration will begin to show even with regularly scheduled maintenance,” the report stated.” Furthermore, as the building and grounds remain unused, there is the strong likelihood the property will become blighted, a public security issue and will continue to be a financial burden to the school district.”

The school district and the village are looking into the best way to move forward.

The Village of Brewster has been working on a plan to revitalize the village and what becomes of the Garden Street School will have a major impact on the village’s efforts.

Nevertheless, the property is owned by school district.

“The Brewster Board of Education has the legal responsibility to make the final decision,” said Jambor.

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