Town wants old school for offices, police department

By Alex Bridges

Shenandoah County could give the old Woodstock School back to the town by the end of the year.

Woodstock officials have expressed interest in using the school building at 403 W. Court St. as a new home for the town government offices and the police department.

The Board of Supervisors plans to take action today to schedule a public hearing on a proposal to transfer the county property to Woodstock.

Town Manager Reid Wodicka told supervisors at their Oct. 2 work session that Woodstock Town Council plans to take action on the transfer at its regular meeting in November. Should the council decide to support the transfer, supervisors would hold the public hearing Nov. 25 and take action Dec. 9.

The town does not need to hold a public hearing to acquire the school property, Wodicka said.

The old school site consists of two parcels covering approximately 2.7 acres. The last real estate reassessment valued the entire school site at $531,000, including $476,000 for the building and other improvements. Woodstock built the school for $5,000 and then sold the building to the county for $40, Wodicka said. The town would pay $1 to the county should supervisors approve the transfer.

The School Board gave the 2.05-acre parcel on the southwest side of West Court Street to the county by deed dated Sept. 9, 2004. The School Board then gave the remaining 0.78-acre parcel to the county earlier this year by deed dated Feb. 10 when People Inc. proposed to build senior housing on the smaller lot. The Board of Supervisors turned down the proposal after some residents voiced concern that the project did not include the school building. The Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging several years ago proposed building a similar facility on the vacant lot but plans also call for turning the school into its offices. That proposal fell through when the agency’s finances waned.

The town hired the architectural firm Frazier Associates to look at the structure’s stability, rehabilitative needs and the related cost estimates. If the county gives the property to the town and if the town moves forward with the architect on designs, the public would have more opportunities to weigh in should the town move forward with the architect as it designs the project, Wodicka said.

Woodstock Mayor Jeremy McCleary and board Chairman David Ferguson would need to sign a memorandum of agreement that calls for the county to give the parcels to the town within 10 days of signing the document. The town then would agree to use the property for government purposes that benefit Woodstock residents.

However, the memorandum calls for either parcel or the entire property to revert back to the county if no “significant governmental use” of the site occurs within 10 years of the date of the deed. The agreement extends that time period to 11 years if Woodstock is still building a government facility on either or both parcels on the 10-year anniversary of the deed.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com