Uses for Griffin Memorial School explored

LITCHFIELD – From office space to storage to business rentals, a variety of uses were explored for Griffin Memorial School on Tuesday night.

The school building subcommittee brainstormed about how the district and town could use the elementary school if voters approve a new and larger school in March.

The School Board has approved proposing a school to house pre-kindergarten and grades 1-5 and be located near the middle school.

The school district sent out invitations to various boards and local organizations to hear their opinions on uses for Griffin Memorial. Attendance was somewhat light with about three representatives from local organizations and town departments present.

The district is considering moving the school administrative unit offices to Griffin. The offices are currently housed at the high school.

Among the suggestions Tuesday were keeping part of the building open for administrative offices and storage and keeping the gym for community use. The rest of the building would be demolished or shut down.

Many community groups would probably be interested in using the building for meeting space and functions, said Tara Hershberger, president of the Lions Club.

Her group meets in a school cafeteria, she said.

The school could also rent space out to small local businesses, Hershberger said.

School Board member Ralph Boehm, however, questioned how much money the district wants to spend on alternate uses for GMS. He also wondered whether the town or school district would pay for its upkeep if it’s used by a variety of organizations.

Voters might balk at spending money on keeping up a building they decided not to use by approving a new school, Boehm noted.

Another possibility raised was selling the school and the land, which is currently zoned residential.

School Superintendent Cathy Hamblett said she had spoken with two Realtors about what the property’s worth.

They were reluctant to provide analysis because of the conflicting opinions about how the building could be used in the future, she said.

Although the committee didn’t make any decisions about the future of the building, it asked the architect working on the new school to research the costs for demolishing older parts of the building.