Keeping the grass roots growing!!
LAPEER — The “For Sale” signs on the mothballed Elba and Hadley elementary school buildings previously operated by Lapeer Community Schools are coming down. The LCS Board of Education on Thursday unanimously agreed to accept purchase offers for the elementary school buildings, leaving just two other closed properties to sell — the E.T. White Building and Seaton Elementary.
Contingent upon the outcome of the pre-purchase inspections and evaluations, Elba Elementary School was purchased by Nicholas D. Burnett (NDB Investments, LLC) for $150,000. The company’s plans for the school building, at 300 North Elba Road in Elba Township closed at the conclusion of 2009-2010 school year, is to convert the building into an assisting living facility for mentally impaired residents.
The closure of the 12-classroom Elba Elementary, built in 1967, was partly the result of a May 2007 bond election approved by LCS district taxpayers to remodel and open two sixththrough eighth-grade middle schools. The first building, Rolland-Warner, opened in the former Woodside School building that formerly housed Community High School — the district’s alternative high school. Zemmer Junior High School was renovated and reopened as a middle school at the beginning of the 2010- 2011 school year.
Burnett could not be reached by The County Press for comment by press deadline Friday, though LCS Assistant Superintendent Kevin Rose said it’s his understanding that the Elba building conversion will begin in short order.
“This came together rather quickly. We’ve been talking for about two months on this deal, and we’re glad to see it go to someone whose new use of the building will continue to benefit the community,” said Rose.
The district’s original longterm plan included the closing of three of the district’s elementary schools for the 2010- 2011 school year — Hadley, Elba and Seaton. Seaton, located on Coldwater Road in Oregon Township, was closed last week as was Maple Grove Elementary School in Lapeer Township though Maple Grove will be repurposed and will serve as LCS’s new virtual learning center hub.
Hadley Elementary School
Sitting empty and unused since the spring of 2009, officials of Hadley Township had long expressed interest in the building and seven-acre parcel to benefit the quiet hamlet. On Thursday, the LCS board agreed to accept an offer of $100,000 from Hadley Township for the property.
Prior to its closing as part of the district’s downsizing, Hadley at the time housed 175 Early 5’s, kindergarten, first and second grade students and was one of the district’s smallest facilities.
Students who would have attended the Hadley campus were moved to the Murphy campus on Pratt Road in Metamora Township. Students scheduled to attend Murphy in the fifth and sixth grades in 2009-2010 now attend classes in a separate wing of the new Rolland-Warner Middle School building.
Bert Marston donated the seven-acre Hadley parcel in 1939 with the intent that the ball fields could be used for the community in perpetuity. Hadley Township officials have indicated they would like to use the ball fields, while the building may become a music and arts center operated by former Lapeer West music instructor Gary Burns, founder of the Young Musicians Community and director of 3rd Degree Burns — a rock ‘n’ roll band comprised of area youth ages 8 to 18.
“It’s a win-win for the community,” commented Hadley Township Supervisor Ernest Monroe. The township’s plan is to go before its zoning board of appeals to split the school building away from the rest of the property including the baseball fields and a parking lot. “It’s going to be very compatible with our plans to make the property even more of a community focal point.”
Hadley Township, said Monroe, is prepared to extend a purchase offer to Burns in the amount of $20,000 to allow him and his supporters to pursue their vision to operate the Young Musicians Community Center — a working name for the facility. Burns said chimney, roof repairs and other assorted necessary work is tabbed to cost $25,000 while he would like to generate another $20,000 to pay for operating expenses at the center for two years.
In addition to instrument instruction, Burns and his board of directors invision bringing in people to serve as mentors to offer free instruction in art and photography that will promote the band 3rd Degree Burns, in addition to putting in a recording studio, a room for dance and stage presence instruction and also intends to offer marketing and advertising programs to help young people brand and promote the band and the music center.
Burns said 3rd Degree Burns will perform during the Hadley Fourth of July celebration, to be set up near the old townhall. A public announcement will be made at that time of the plans for the band and the community music center. Fundraiser events and dates will be published as they become available.
The LCS district covers approximately 225 square miles covering one-half of Lapeer County and has a population of nearly 36,000, which includes all of the City of Lapeer, Lapeer and Mayfield townships and large portions of Attica, Elba, Hadley, Metamora, and Oregon townships.
Following the closure of Seaton and Maple Grove, LCS this fall will operate five elementary schools including Lynch on Roods Lake Road in Mayfield Township, Mayfield on Plum Creek Road also in Mayfield Township, Murphy on Pratt Road and Schickler on West Oregon in Mayfield Township.
Starting August 1, LCS will open Turrill Elementary School in Lapeer as a year-round school.
LCS in June 2006 closed Attica Elementary on Lake Pleasant Road in Attica and Irwin Elementary on Second Street in Lapeer to meet its strategic facilities master plan objectives as well as to save the district money in the face of declining enrollment.
Attica Elementary was later purchased and is now the home of Lapeer Community Church, while Irwin has been renovated and now serves as the district’s administration building.
Proceeds from the sales of Elba and Hadley, $250,000 in total, will go toward the district’s capital project’s fund that cannot be used for anything other than future building upgrades and construction. The fund had $50,000 in it prior to the building sales.
District officials are hopeful sale of the E.T. White building and property will net the district another $500,000.
“This is a good day. We have sold two of our excess buildings that will continue to serve people here in our community for years to come,” said Superintendent Matt Wandrie.