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Clarksville lease moves ahead

Sheriff’s office and district finalize contract

Bethlehem Central School District closed Clarksville Elementary School starting in the 2011-12 school year to save money. Now, it appears the Albany County Sheriff's Office may be interested in leasing the property for use as a substation.

Bethlehem Central School District closed Clarksville Elementary School starting in the 2011-12 school year to save money. Now, it appears the Albany County Sheriff's Office may be interested in leasing the property for use as a substation. Photo by Charles Wiff.

— The Bethlehem Central Board of Education officially approved the leasing agreement that would allow the Albany County Sheriff’s Office to use the former Clarksville Elementary School as its new substation at its Wednesday, June 6, meeting.

The school district and the county have been negotiating the deal for nearly six months, leaving some worried the plan would never be put into place or that the district was attempting to sell the building. School board members addressed those concerns at the meeting.

“We should clarify about why it took a long time getting that agreement that there was never any intention of selling the school,” said Lynne Lenhardt, who was recently re-elected to the board. “We weren’t doing it for any other reason than saving (the school) for the future in case we have to use it again.”

Superintendent Tom Douglas said agreements such as the leasing deal take a long time because so many issues have to be addressed and the contracts need to be reviewed by attorneys from both parties.

“I think there was just a time delay in making sure we dot our I’s and cross our T’s,” he said. “This agreement is a good thing for the community and a good thing for the district, especially in these financial times.”

Board Vice President Matt Downey said the hope is to one day use the building as a school once the district has more fiscal resources. For now, the board is just happy the building is in use and equipment, such as the playground, is still available for the community.

The proposed lease includes an initial five-year period with the district receiving $30,000 in rent for the first year. Each year the rent will increase by $6,000, ending with a rent of $54,000 in the final year. After year five, the contract can be renegotiated for an additional five years, but the district can terminate the lease with 180 days notice anytime after year three if the district needs use of the building. The district can also terminate the lease anytime if directed by the state Department of Education.

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