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Cohanzie School in Waterford likely to face the wrecking ball

By Julianne Hanckel

Publication: The Day

Published November 20. 2012 4:00AM
Failure of developers to show interest in site appears to doom building

Waterford - Cohanzie School is now slated to be demolished after the deadline for developers to submit proposals for the vacant property passed on Friday.

There were no proposals turned in to the Town Clerk's office on Monday, but Town Clerk Robert Nye said he is holding out hope on the town's delay of demolition ordinance.

"One of the purposes of the delay of demolition ordinance is that if someone came up with an idea or a proposal there's still time, it sure doesn't look very good, but there's still time," Nye said.

He said a demolition permit for the school - the original portion of which was built in 1923 - would have to be granted and the town would then have to hire a contractor. The contractor would then have to apply for a demolition permit and as soon as that application is filed, the town's ordinance delays demolition for a minimum of 30 days.

"The likelihood of it being torn down this calendar year is pretty slim," Nye said.

Officials from the State Historic Preservation Office warned the town last month that if a development proposal wasn't submitted to the town within six weeks, the building would be slated for demolition.

"We knew that was a real possibility," Daniel Forrest, deputy state historic preservation officer, said Monday.

"It's one of those constraints, the town has gone through an exhaustive effort to find a developer and we don't wish to see a project like this that the town and community has expressed concern about being held up. I think everyone in our office had some hope that there might be a feasible way of at least preserving some part of the building but it doesn't look like there is going to be one," he said.

In addition to hiring a contractor and then submitting a permit application, the town must also take steps to document the historic school building.

The Department of Economic and Community Development and the town must conduct a professional state-level photographic and narrative documentation of the school that is consistent with the SHPO.

The town must also prepare an interpretive exhibit on the historic transition from one-room school houses to consolidated district schools, which began around 1911 with the Jordan School.

The SHPO recommended that the Waterford Historical Society participate in the preparation of the exhibit, which may be displayed at the Town Hall, the Historical Society or another appropriate site mutually acceptable to both parties.

j.hanckel@theday.com

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