Our opinion: Using the surplus

Sugar Grove Borough Council’s interest in the disposition of the Sugar Grove Elementary School once it is no longer a school is encouraging.

It’s not clear at this point whether the building would be turned over to the borough or whether the school district would retain ownership, but at least someone is talking about long-term use of the building.

Too many former schools languish and ultimately deteriorate from disuse. The former Pittsfield Elementary School is a prime example. When it closed more than 10 years ago, it was eyed as a prime location for business or industry, located near the intersection of Routes 6 and 27 in Pittsfield Township. It was a plan that was never fulfilled, and now the building sits empty, and indications are that at least some of its systems have failed.

The one bright and shining exception to this trend has been Pennsylvania General Energy’s adoption of the former Market Street Elementary. That company should be applauded for not only putting life into the building, but improving it to boot.

Warren County faces the specter of at least six empty former elementary schools over the next several years as the district’s physical plant shrinks to accomodate two K-12 centers. The new closures will be the South Street Early Learning Center, Sugar Grove Elementary, Sheffield Elemementary and Allegheny Valley Elementary. They will be added to the list that now contains Pittsfield and Pleasant elementaries.

It would be a shame if all of these buildings were allowed to languish as Pittsfield Elementary has.

Ideally, they would be sold to private owners and placed on the tax rolls to help boost the county’s stagnant tax base, but in these sketchy economic times, that’s more difficult than it sounds.

With the school district’s plans for these buildings apparently set in stone, it’s not too early for the communities that contain them to start to think about possibilities for their reuse as Sugar Grove has.

Just as a mind is a terrible thing to waste, so is a perfectly sound building.