SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. -- The town of Lewisboro is slated to move several of its major services to the shuttered Lewisboro Elementary School (LES) in South Salem, including the police department and justice court.
Supervisor Peter Parsons confirmed the services will be relocated to LES during the Lewisboro Town Board's Monday meeting, where it voted unanimously to approve a four-year lease with the Katonah-Lewisboro School District.
The school board voted to approve the lease at a meeting on Saturday, district records show.
Parsons also said that the town's land-use departments - they including building, the assessor's office, planning and zoning - will also move to LES.
For people who are approaching LES from its entrance, Parsons said that police will be located to the right, court in the center and the land-use departments to the left. The court's offices will also be located to the left.
For years, the town has faced a severe shortage of space, as its town hall, located in South Salem's historic hamlet center, is too small to fill all of its needs. The town will relocate services that are currently housed in a shopping center in Cross River.
“The town will save nice money over the length of the lease," Parsons said at the meeting.
If the shopping center's landlord were to keep the town's rent flat - a scenario that Parsons believes was unlikely - then the town would break even during the lease's first year and then save roughly $28,000 per year for the remainder of the deal.
The lease will commence on April 1 and run to March 31, 2021, according to the school district. The agreement will bring in about $95,000 in annual rental income, the district notes. To date, the cost of maintaining LES while vacant has been about $100,000.
Once the lease expires, it can be extended annually if both parties agree to do so. The district can also take back the building if it needs to use it as a school again.
The town will occupy about 13,000 square feet of the building, the district said, or roughly 20 percent.
The town plans to begin its move into LES on Wednesday, March 1, according to Parsons. Renovation work is slated to commence during the coming month, with an April 1 move eyed. Parsons hopes that the town will completely vacate the Cross River space by April 30.
Town Board members are hopeful that moving services into LES, particularly the police station, will be helpful for the quality of life in the neighborhood.
Deputy Supervisor Peter DeLucia, referring to unwanted activity on the school's grounds, said that there are "things going on there" due to nobody being present.
Parsons was sympathetic to his colleague's concern.
“And, quite honestly, history says that if you move the police into an area, the area cleans itself up remarkably quickly.”
Playground equipment outdoors will remain accessible to residents, according to the school district. At the board meeting on Monday, DeLucia expressed hope that the gym and cafeteria can be reopened for public usage; he envisioned services for senior citizens and youth operating at the school in the future.
The school is located off of Bouton Road and borders residencies. It is also a short drive away from town hall.
Katonah-Lewisboro closed LES in 2014 as part of a consolidation plan due to declining enrollment in its younger grades. The closure was highly controversial with parents, who fought unsuccessfully against it. Students from LES were rezoned to two of the district's other elementary schools.