Future of Boulevard School back to square one

The search for the future use of the former Memorial Boulevard Middle School building has begun again.
Last month, the city’s Real Estate Committee rejected the only proposal it had received for the school ‘s future use,— a proposal from the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce. The chamber wanted to create an incubator for small, start up companies that focused on media technology, bio-science, and informational technology, as well as house their own offices there. After several presentations, meetings, and a work session, the committee decided it did not want to go further with the chamber’s proposal.
At last week’s council meeting, the council voted to send out another Request for Proposal (RFP) to see if any other interested parties would like to purchase or rent the old building.
According to the city’s Purchasing Agent Roger Rousseau, the city was  spending almost $200,000 yearly to keep the building heated and to have electricity flowing. He said while the building is no longer a school, it is still being used by a variety of community organizations so heat and electricity are still needed.
Republican Council-man David Mills said he does not think the building should be sold and is concerned with the theater being in control of someone else and losing its integrity.
Republican Council-man Ken Cockayne, who also sits on the city’s Real Estate Committee, said he and his colleagues on the committee were and are “looking for every option.” He said the city is wasting money by just letting the building sit there, and the committee is committed to looking for the best option for preserving the building and theater as well as saving the city and taxpayers money.
“I don’t think anyone sitting up here (on the council) wishes to not preserve (the building and theater),” Mayor Art Ward said. However, he said sometimes it comes down to where the city is economically. He said he can’t ask for unions to take wage freezes, and then put the expense of renovating the building on the city and taxpayers.
“It’s not up to the taxpayers to subsidize this kind of project,” Ward said, adding that he wishes the city could renovate the building and bring it up to code tomorrow, “but the reality is we can’t afford it.”
The new RFP, which was put out last Wednesday, will be available until Feb. 1. The RFP states that the city is intending to “sell or lease” the property, and that “any proposal shall provide for regular or continued use of the auditorium/theater.”
There will also be two site visits for parties interested in the property. One was already expected to be held on Thursday, Dec. 20, and the other is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan.8 at 3 p.m.