Officials look to take their chances on a new approach to Memorial School, represented in a revised requests for proposals (RFP) for the building, which they will issue Oct. 17.
The school has once again fallen under town ownership after Adams-Cheshire Regional School District's lease ended at the beginning of this month. The district housed Hoosac Valley High School there during the 2011-12 school year, while a building project renovated its Savoy Road high school building, now reopened. Officials aim to find a suitable reuse for Memorial School.
This RFP is a departure from its predecessor, issued back in January, in that it asks for two-year lease proposals on partitioned zones of the building -- lease areas "A" and "B."
Contained within are the building's wings that officials consider most likely to garner interest from outside entities. Lease area A comprises the gym and locker rooms, auditorium, administrative offices and shop area; lease area B contains the cafeteria and kitchen.
A third area of the building, "C," is comprised of the building's former classrooms. Officials plan to remain open to inquiries from potential proposers about this swath, which is larger than the two others.
Based on knowledge gathered during the former RFP process, Town Administrator Jonathan Butler thinks area A's future could see a "great reuse ... with some community element" and for B, subject to business interest during the prior RFP process, a "solid business."
"We'd like to issue this and see what we get for formal responses," Butler said at a Selectmen's workshop Wed nesday night. "If we get anything that we think provides us the opportunity to work forward, we'd like to be able to start that process."
The new RFP also lays out a site tour, scheduled for Oct. 25 at the school, 30 Columbia St., at 11 a.m. Proposals, the RFP says, are due Friday, Nov. 16, by 3 p.m.
Officials will give preference to proposals based on several factors, including economic viability, former business success, their potential contribution to downtown and whether they would create jobs, cover the building's operational costs or supply funds for maintenance.
Wednesday's workshop discussion went beyond the RFP process as well. Butler and town Community Development officials hope that filling these zones with tenants will qualify the building for future MassDevelopment grants.
Tenants are crucial for this to be a possibility, officials said, because grants available for public buildings -- like the town-owned Memorial School -- are few.
Though officials anticipate the town to incur heating and other maintenance costs in the event that tenants move in, they consider the investment money better placed on the table. Grants could cover the cost a necessary roof replacement, a potential demolition of area C or heating and utility upgrades.
"It's an investment," Select men John Duval said. "We've got to keep that building open."
Director of Community Development Donna Cesan said the town also aims to seek grants to pay for architects and engineers to assess the building for future uses, a process that could coincide with any lease agreement and last throughout the proposed two-year duration.