By Patricia Minichiello
The Rutland Town Select Board could potentially sell the last of its five one-room school houses. The board is expected to discuss the future of the property Tuesday.
Now called the Cheney Hill Community Center, officials said the building needs to be cleaned out, including piles of books, boxes, art supplies and the kitchen.
The inside of the building is a throwback to the 1950s with chalkboards on most walls and a bounty of Reader’s Digests filling the shelves. Town Administrator Joe Zingale said the property was most likely used as a school until 1967 when Rutland Town School opened on Post Road.
After its school house years, it was reincarnated as a community center.
“The town’s senior group used it to meet there every Tuesday,” Zingale said, and a Rutland Town boy scouts troop used it as a gathering spot.
But last year, the building was not used at all.
“There’s mayonnaise in the fridge from 2010,” said Joshua Terenzini, chairman of the Select Board.
The building is tax exempt and is assessed at $206,400, according to Marcia Chioffi of the town lister’s office. Even though the town is not paying taxes on the property, the town is paying to heat the building and keep the lights on.
Town officials took a tour of the building in September, to figure out if they should continue heating it or put it up for sale. Last year the municipality paid $533.24 for heat and $2736.57 for oil, said Susan McGee, assistant town treasurer.
Selectwoman Mary Ashcroft said after the tour, board members started rethinking the sale. She said she sees potential for town use of the building.
“My personal feeling is that I hate to see old buildings be lost to town and public use. This is kind of a gem of a building.”
Ashcroft said there are new energy efficient windows throughout, a working sprinkler system in the basement and a fairly new furnace.
“If we put it on the market for somebody to convert into a residence, it would be a challenge too,” she said. “It’s not set up as a house, it’s set up as a school house.”
Recently, there’s been renewed interest in renting the space.
“Since we went public with the notion to sell it, we’ve had several requests to rent it out,” Zingale said. The board has declined those requests, and is looking at what the next step might be.
If the property is put on the market, Zingale said that voters might have to approve the measure.
Patricia Minichiello is a freelance reporter and editor of vtpresspass.com. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.