Looking at a serious budget crunch for next year, members of the board would very much like to sell the two extra school buildings the district owns. But the missed deadline on the closing of the purchase of the sports field in Narrowsburg has thrown the $3 million sale of the buildings into doubt.
At a meeting of the Sullivan West Center School District board on July 14, superintendent Dr. Ken Hilton told the board that developer Ilwon Kang missed the scheduled closing on July 1. The 14-acre field on Kirk Rd. in Narrowsburg was then leased to the Narrowsburg Chamber of Commerce so planned festivities at the site could go forward.
After that, a closing on the $70,000 purchase was scheduled for July 7, but Kang didn’t send the money, and has thus far not contacted Hilton to explain why.
Board member Noel van Swol said, “I have been suspicious of this man from day one.” The board has granted Kang two extensions on his offer to purchase the districts school buildings in Narrowsburg and Callicoon, and the closing is now scheduled for the end of October. van Swol said that if Kang seeks another extension and he does not close the deal, he should either forfeit his $150,000 deposit or be required to pay the cost of maintaining the two buildings, which is running about $150,000 per year.
As the arrangement stands now, Kang is being charged $2,000 per month in earnest money.
Board member Ken Cohen said he thought the board was going to have to cut Kang off at some point, but he said he did not believe the decision to move forward with Kang’s offer was a bad one because, “we’re not ending up losing anything.”
One of the stated reasons for the delay of the sale is that Town of Tusten officials are re-writing the zoning code, and at this point it is still unclear whether the new code will allow Kang to convert the school into an 80-room hotel as he plans.
Board member Angela Daley said that by the end of October the answer to the question may be known. When the matter was discussed at the Tusten town meeting on July 12, supervisor Peg Harrison said there may be a public hearing on the zoning rewrite in August, and she thought the process might be finished by November.
The district has been maintaining the buildings in a ready-to-use condition, which means heating them in the winter and performing regular maintenance. If the sale of the buildings to Kang does not go through, it seems likely that plumbing in the buildings will be drained and they will be entirely shut down.
Daily said, “That will mean the end of Eaglefest and Riverfest,” at least as far as the use of the school is concerned for those two annual events in Narrowsburg.