Following the Town of Hurley’s March 18 town hall meeting at the West Hurley Firehouse, where a standing-room-only crowd of local residents came out to express concerns and seek answers regarding the long-pending sale and development of the closed West Hurley School into condominiums, Hurley Supervisor John Perry sent a letter expressing his community’s concerns to Onteora School District Superintendent Victoria McLaren.
“This letter is regarding the citizens of West Hurley. After over 100 people attended my Town Hall Meeting on March 19th and spoke out about their concerns for the purchase of the West Hurley School and its potential use, I would like to request that the School District hold off on the closing,” Perry wrote on March 20. “I would request that the closing not happen until all environmental impact studies have been completed and provided to the public for review. I will also be requesting the developers to attend a meeting to provide the citizens of West Hurley the ability to address any concerns they might have. Again all before the closing and transfer of ownership of the property.”
McLaren responded with a letter to Perry that she termed “a response that was purely factual. The response indicated that at this point we have no closing date set and April was never established as a closing date. It is my understanding that the developer will be working with the community, but we do not have any information with regard to his plans in that area.”
This week, the Onteora superintendent called to answer concerns she’d heard from West Hurley.
“It’s not that we don’t care about the community’s concerns but we’re in a legal contractual agreement and it’s our understanding that the purchaser will address these concerns,” she said. “Furthermore we’re not anticipating the closing will happen anytime soon.”
McLaren added that the Onteora Board of Education did agree to allow the would-be developers/purchaser, Cedar Development East LLC, to do well tests on the property at their December 4 meeting. She also forwarded a Letter to the Editor that she’d recently sent to the Daily Freeman in which she noted that, “the sale of this property will:
Generate tax revenue from property that has been tax-exempt.
Eliminate maintenance costs for a building that has not educated students in nearly two decades. The entire process has been guided by the school district’s legal counsel to ensure that the District followed all appropriate laws and regulations. The property was placed on the open market and the Board entertained any offers, consistent with its fiduciary obligation to secure the best price obtainable in the Board’s judgment.”
By phone, as well as in the letter she referenced, McLaren pointed out how the West Hurley School was first put on the market in the autumn of 2014, resulting in a possible sale to a nonprofit that didn’t pan out. After the school was listed with a different broker in the summer of 2016, the district went to contract with Cedar Development East II and its mainstay, Kerry Danenberg, in February of 2017.
“The purchaser is working with the Town and the County and when they reach the appropriate stage, we anticipate that a closing date will be set,” McLaren concluded in her letter to the editor.
“We can certainly hear them,” she added of the West Hurley community’s concerns, adding that she’s not yet spoken with Danenberg or his associates “directly.”
Dennis Doyle, director of Ulster County Planning, added that the developers had been before the Ulster County Planning Board last summer, but on an informal basis to date.
Again, calls and emails to Cedar Development East LLC and their local representatives have not been returned to date.