Niles board reviewing options for old school properties

NILES – The Niles Board of Education is reviewing its options for various school-owned properties, including the sites of two former school buildings that were demolished last year.

The board at a special meeting Thursday considered selling some properties, donating some land to the city for recreational purposes and using a site for a possible track or playground.

The district owns lots and properties of various sizes off West Street, Belmont Avenue, Federal Street, Liberty Street, and near the high school football stadium.

Board members agreed to keep properties located near the district’s four current school buildings and administration offices.

Board Vice President Rich Limongi suggested landscaping three smaller properties near the high school and stadium. He mentioned that perhaps a landscaping company or a high school student group would consider doing the work this spring as a beautification project for Arbor Day.

Properties on Belmont Avenue and West Street are being considered for sale and more information is being sought on a property off Franklin Street.

Properties at the former Washington and Jackson school sites possibly may be donated to the city for recreational purposes.

The board is considering selling the 2.5-acre property that held the former school administration offices at West Street and Federal Street. Limongi suggested speaking to nearby Macali’s Giant Eagle to ask if the grocery store would be interested in the property since it sits next to its parking lot. Other nearby businesses will also be approached.

Superintendent Frank Danso said the longer that property sits, the longer the school district will have to take care of the building and lawn.

”It is probably in the best interest to sell. It is too small for a track,” he said.

School Treasurer Linda Molinaro recommended appraisal of the properties and checking on the zoning before any sale.

Danso said it is best to check on the current values of the many properties.

A small school property off Belmont Avenue where Monroe School once stood was recommended to be sold.

As for the 4.22-acre Jackson School site off Emma Street, which had the school building demolished, the board recommended checking to see if it could be used for a track or playground area.

Board President Tony Perrone said he will contact the city about options for a park there and if there would be enough parking.

”If it is big enough for a track that would be good,” said board member Chris Doutt.

As for the 11.9-acre Washington School site off Hartzell Avenue, the board will speak to the city about possibly using the land for an extension of nearby Stevens Park.

”This would be a great addition to the park system,” Doutt said.

Board member Mary Ann McMahon suggested the idea of a ”Dragon Town” play area at the Washington site similar to a ”Tiger Town” in Howland.

The board will talk to the city about three school-owned lots off Franklin Street and one lot off Liberty Street.

In other business, Danso said for the February meeting there will be discussion on the upkeep, maintenance and needs of the high school football stadium and parking lot situation when there are home football games.