What does the future hold for Pettibone School?
Published 8:11 pm, Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Many in New Milford are sharing their thoughts these days about just what should be done with John Pettibone School.
The school officialy closes June 30, but the final students made their exit June 17.
Now, it’s up to the town and its residents to determine what use the building and property might offer.
At the end of September, the Board of Education relinquishes its right to the building and property, turning it over to the town.
Some residents believe a deal is already in the works with Mayor Pat Murphy’s administration planning to sell the building and 16.4 acre parcel located along Danbury Road (Route 7 South).
“The land is already sold,” opined resident Todd Kwapien. “Make no mistake.”
“We’ll see a Target, or possibly a Super WalMart, there within the next year,” Kenneth Nasi added.
Toll Brothers, developers of high-end housing, have contacted the mayor and the Board of Education with interest.
The mayor has said no plans to sell exist at this time and reminds voters in the town would have to approve any sale of the property.
“Try to attract a tech business,” Ivey said, “by giving them a tax break for the next five to 10 years. See if we can get 20 or 30 jobs that pay $50,000 to $90,000 so those salaries can be spent locally, improving the local economy.”
Many more say the land and building should be put to use in ways that benefit the community.
Suggestions have included a new home for the Parks & Recreation Department, a public pool, community sports complex, skating rink, a community center, a hands-on museum for kids or a science center.
Among those, prominent would be a community sport complex, with public pool, on the property.
“I would love to see a community recreational space with some sports fields and courts to complement the playground,” said Kristie Millar O’Neill, “maybe a snack shack as well. Some place the town could host sports events.”
“Something big, like the recreation center in Stamford,” agreed Lynette Celli Rigdon. “There’s not enough gym space in the town for kids.”
Dana Sadler Mott suggests the town should charge a yearly fee to use such a recreation center and also charge teams for use of playing fields that would accompany the center. That way the cost would be defrayed, she said.
There is also support for re-purposing the school building as a community center, with adult education classes offered or alternative high school classes.
“I like the idea of a community center that would offer different activities to keep our young people busy,” said Kathy Cosgrove. “The center could also offer a senior day care.”
Renee DeMoss suggests re-purposing the school building and opening a large tutoring center there. Even if a fee were to be charged for tutoring, most parents already pay for extra help for their children, she remarked.k
The school was named for John Pettibone (1875-1949), a New Milford high school teacher and later the district’s first superintendent of schools, who served as an educator in town from 1902 to 1944.