Whately seeks volunteers for Center School visioning committee

  • The old Whately Center School sits behind the iconic large milk bottle in Whately Center. FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Saturday, September 07, 2019

WHATELY — Do you have an idea for how the old Whately Center School could be used? If so, the town wants to hear from you.

The Whately Select Board is asking for volunteers to serve on the Whately Center School Visioning Committee to help plan for the future of the town-owned building and parcel at 218 Chestnut Plain Road, behind the iconic large milk bottle. Anyone interested in joining the committee can contact Town Administrator Brian Domina at townadmin@whately.org by Sept. 23.

The committee has been tasked with identifying, investigating and assessing the possible reuses for the building and land, and submitting a written report on the committee’s preferred options to the Select Board within two months. According to the town’s website, the committee is asked to investigate public and private possibilities and to take into consideration the building’s condition, available infrastructure, renovation and demolition costs, market demand, historical significance, and how other communities have reused former public schools of similar size.

Select Board Chairman Frederick Orloski said he hopes the committee will consist of small business owners, remodeling contractors and people with real estate experience. He said the number of members on the committee will depend on how many people volunteer their time.

Orloski said the brick building served as a school until the 1990s, when it was consolidated with East Whately School, known locally as “the blue school” due to its exterior paint job. The Center School was for first and second graders, and children in grades three through six went to the blue school. Students have since attended Whately Elementary School at 273 Long Plain Road.

When it was no longer used for education purposes, Orloski said the Center School housed about two-thirds of the town offices, including the Select Board, town administrator, town clerk, Water Department and Police Department. The municipal offices moved to 4 Sandy Lane a few years ago, and the Center School has been vacant since September 2018, when the Whately Historical Society moved its items into the renovated Town Hall at 194 Chestnut Plain Road.

There are mixed opinions in Whately about what to do with the Center School, Orloski said. The town could keep it or sell it. He said restoring the building is financially infeasible and would not make sense because its future use is not known. Orloski said he has a sentimental interest in keeping the structure under town ownership because he attended the school more than 50 years ago.​