NEW MILFORD — As concerns have been raised about proper winter maintenance of the Pettibone School building, the issue has quickly elevated to one of the priorities for the newly elected mayor.

Mayor David Gronbach, who took office on Tuesday, said he plans to have the building sufficiently heated, although winterizing funds haven’t been allotted in the town budget.

“Pettibone was one of the first things I talked about today,” Gronbach said Tuesday. “We will keep the building heated at a temperature where there won’t be any damage. One of my first acts will be to find a use for Pettibone and get it occupied as soon as possible.”

Public Works Director Mike Zarba had said on Monday that “there is no money allocated to the town budget for winterizing services” for the building.

“I will be seeking further guidance from the incoming mayor in regards to what needs to be done with the building and how it might be paid for,” Zarba said. “The Department of Public Works has sought an estimate for the winterizing process at the building and is waiting for a quote.”

The next Town Council meeting, with the new members in place, is scheduled for Dec. 14.

The fate of the building has been unknown since it was turned over to the town on Sept. 30.

“The building and the property and all subsequent related expenses (would) become the responsibility of the Town of New Milford,” former schools facility manager John Calhoun wrote in a letter to former mayor Pat Murphy on Sept. 18.

However, no action was taken by the former Town Council to appropriate funding for winter maintenance of the building.

Murphy asked the education board on Sept. 23 to transfer the amount left in the Pettibone property and maintenance budget line to the town for continued maintenance of the property. However, the education board voted unanimously in October against the transfer. There was $11,470 remaining at the time in the Pettibone maintenance account. However, electric and natural gas bills were still due for September.

Pat Farquharson is one resident who has been concerned about the lack of winter preparations for Pettibone.

“It is somewhat disconcerting for me to find out that those in charge of securing the Pettibone School have not, and that those people who knew about it not being done did little if anything to bring it to their attention,” Farquharson said. “Also, the fact that a member of the community had to bring this out should concern the residents of New Milford and perhaps ask, ‘what are we paying these officials for?’”

The 74,896-square-foot Pettibone building is valued with a replacement cost of $6.4 million, according to land records.

stuz@newstimes.com; 203-731-3352