DOLLA DOLLA BILL, Y’ALL – The S-GI board of education voted to list its former Vaughn Street bus garage at $250,000. Pete Andrews of the Delevan-based Christian Youth Corps said the group’s $1 bid was negotiable, and would include cleanup costs. Photo by Joshua Gordon.
SPRINGVILLE — Earlier this year, the Christian Youth Corps bid on the Springville-Griffith Institute’s former bus garage on Vaughn Street – for a single dollar.
“That was negotiable,” said CYC Director Pete Andrews at the district’s last school board meeting on Oct. 8. The range of negotiation, Superintendent Paul Connelly noted, “was between one and 200,000 bucks. That’s a pretty wide range.”
Although the district is, in Connelly’s words, “strapped” for cash – Andrews explained the dollar amount was merely a placeholder for an amount to be determined.
“We offered $1 a month just as a quantitative value – it’s a lease. That could be $2,000 a month, whatever, over a 10-year lease,” Andrews said.
The director explained that the garage, which was once an airplane hangar, was found to be contaminated with aviation fuel, among other cleanup and structural issues.
“There’s aviation fuel in the soil. After they found that in the soil, the estimate [for cleanup] was about $250,000,” he added.
According to Andrews, the CYC bid included cleanup and structural work, to improve safety of the building, work he valued at $300,000.
He explained that he had been in touch with S-GI School Business Administrator Ted Welch about the deal, but that the district wanted to explore its options. At its Oct. 8 meeting, the S-GI board of education voted to list the property as commercial real estate, at $250,000, for six months.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” said Andrews about the vote, “as long as they get a better deal than what we are offering them.
“If they want to put it on the market, that’s wonderful. But whoever buys it, the school is still holding for cleanup. We’re willing to take care of that,” he said. “By the end of October, when the bid for proposals is completed, we can get in there with engineers [needed to begin structural and cleanup work].”
The CYC, a nonprofit, non-denominational youth organization based in Delevan, uses service projects – which can be anything from installing ramps for wheelchair-using homeowners, to welding and landscaping work at Buffalo Naval Park – to teach trade skills to area youth. The organization is looking to expand its operations with a new “Pre-Apprenticeship” program.
According to Teresa Nagel, director of the ship program, the CYC would offer high school-aged students the opportunity to work after school with certified trainers to learn basic building, maintenance and repair skills. Those skills would prepare students to enter professional apprenticeship programs, later on.
Those who had completed the program “would walk out of here with a card, good in all 50 states, that would allow them to enter into an apprenticeship program,” said Andrews.
“What we’re offering is a nationally-accredited program that works hand-in-hand with the education kids are already getting,” said Nagel.
For now, the Pre-Apprenticeship Program is on hold, while the CYC takes steps to earn certification by a national organization. The group also needs space to host the program and to store extra materials. That is why an acceptance of the bus garage bid – or even outright rejection – is so crucial, according to Andrews and Nagel.
Andrews said he envisions the program as a partnership between CYC, a local school district and BOCES. “But we can’t start until we know which district we’re working with,” he said.
Nagel said the group would prefer to work with S-GI. “For us, it’s the best opportunity here, because we have a nine-year track record with these kids.”
Andrews said the CYC has recently acquired a 52,000-square-foot warehouse in Bradford, Penn., which offers potential space for the program. The group is also exploring options in the Buffalo area.
“I’m excited. This is a great opportunity and a great place to be,” said Andrews. “I would love to see if Springville is as excited as we are. But, if there is no interest, we’ll have to pack up and find someplace that is.”
For his part, Andrews said he appreciated the board’s support for the CYC. “At the last board meeting, Paul Connelly said what we do is great, but they wanted to explore other options.” Even so, he noted, “It’s time to move things along.”