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Published: Tuesday, 4/27/2010

Waterville to purchase school, turn site into park


Waterville Village Council, calling the decision an opportunity of a lifetime, last night voted to buy the former Waterville Elementary building for $90,000.

The village's downtown revitalization plan calls for demolishing the school and turning the site into a park. That will not happen until the village has the $310,000 needed to tear it down, Mayor Derek Merrin said.

Councilman Mike Metzger cast the lone dissenting vote, citing the village's economic situation, but he later threw his support behind his fellow councilmen.

Residents who attended the council meeting cited financial concerns for their opposition as well, citing austerity measures that include imposing a trash fee and canceling the July 4 fireworks program.

But various councilmen said the chance to buy the structure presented an opportunity to restore a parcel of land to a public space.

Councilman Jeff Marty, who said he attended classes there, said the village dedicated that parcel in 1853 as a public square, and said it would be tragic if the site were to be converted into condos that would cut off access to the river.

"It's the right thing to do for every person in this village," Mr. Marty said.

Mr. Merrin also supported the purchase, saying the village has applied for grants to help offset the expense. He said Waterville would not demolish the structure until money for that phase of the project was in hand.

"This was not a haphazard decision," he said."

The school was vacated during the 1996-97 school year.

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