District officials ponder fate of Lake Clear School

Lake Clear School (Enterprise photo — Matthew Turner)

SARANAC LAKE — Saranac Lake Central School district officials want to do something with the Lake Clear school, which was closed in 2009. Adirondack Health used the building for offices until 2015, but it’s been empty ever since.

On Wednesday night the school board went into executive session to mull over an undisclosed offer to buy the property. The property, first listed at $385,000, saw its price drop by $100,000, but an offer made last year apparently fell through.

District superintendent Diane Fox said, “It brings up the question of our fiscal responsibility to our taxpayers. It’s costing us $20,000 a year to keep that building running.” The district pays for groundskeeping and utilities, said Fox.

The parcel upon which the school sits is classified “Resource Management” by the state Adirondack Park Agency, which is the most restrictive classification.

“I’ve made a request to the APA to change the classification,” said Fox. She said she had also asked APA officials how likely it would be to change the classification, and if they would agree to change it, how long that would take.

The answers were discouraging. “It could be two or three years out, if they agreed to change it,” she said.

She also didn’t know how likely it would be, since she’s requesting a change from the most restrictive classification to the least.

“So what are the other options?” She said. “What about taking the building down and selling it just as the land? Could we donate it to a municipality, like Harrietstown, or the state?”

School board member Jeff Branch said, as a resident of Harrietstown, he’d be upset to see the property transferred to the town.

“It keeps it off the tax rolls,” said Branch. “It’s costing us more than we’re going to make on it already.”

Board member Clyde Baker asked whether the district could auction it off as it is.

Fox said she would look into the rules governing auctioning school property and see if that were feasible.

The board entered executive session to discuss details of a possible real estate transaction but took no further action on the matter.