It’s usually not a good sign when Noel van Swol says, “I almost feel like saying, ‘I told you so.’” And that’s what the board member said at a meeting of the Sullivan West Central School District at the high school on August 23.
Speaking as the chairman of the Facilities Needs Committee, van Swol informed his colleagues that a sinkhole had been discovered at the high school, and the estimated cost to repair it was $3,000 to $8,000.
He said, “The area of the sinkhole is not where the drainage work was done last summer. This is under a paved area. It goes back 10 years—apparently, the underground drainage pipes at that point were not sealed or were not sealed properly, and so the water leached out; when this occurred, we also found out that they stuffed the area with hay instead of using aggregate, gravel, whatever.”
Are there other such connections like the one that leaked? “There are 74 other potential joints like that that may have been done right or may not have been done right. We literally do not know.”
While the board considers how to address the problem of the sinkhole, the members are also looking anew at what might be the best way to sell the excess Narrowsburg and Delaware Valley buildings. A group called the Solution Project proposed purchasing the Narrowsburg School to be used as a multi-purpose facility, with perhaps an educational component and a business focus to attract new jobs to the area. However, said van Swol, “they were willing to pay significantly less than the asking price and they wanted the extra acreage, which at this point is not up for sale.”
Superintendent Dr. Nancy Hackett, who replaced Dr. Kenneth Hilton earlier this summer, said, “We do not have any bids; there is no one interested in our buildings at this time.”
Narrowsburg lawyer and realtor John Hector has an exclusive deal to sell the two schools through next March and will meet with the board in September to discuss the matter.
Also, Patterns for Progress, the Hudson Valley think tank led by former Sullivan County manager Jonathan Drapkin, has offered to create a proposal for marketing the buildings for $25,000.
In other business, the board voted to approve a public referendum on October 23. The vote will be for the public to approve several capital projects that total $2.68 million. The projects include the resurfacing of an athletic track, a new roof for a building in Jeffersonville and a nature trail.
The referendum will include the cost of the creation of a television production facility, which has been a goal of the board for many years. Hackett said that one of the reasons this project was added to the list is because, if voters approve it, unlike the other projects, the production facility may qualify for state aid.