Narrowsburg school purchased to become a rehab center

The Narrowsburg School building, vacant since 2005, has been sold to a developer who plans to turn it into a drug rehabilitation center. The school is the latest in a series of Catskills schools that have been shuttered and repurposed because of declining student enrollment.

Following an executive session at Sullivan West Board of Education meeting on Thursday, River Reporter’s Linda Drollinger reports that the school board chose to accept one of the two purchase offers on the table for the building — the $751,000 offer from Joan Buto to convert the building into a rehab center. 

Drollinger writes that several board members “apologetically defended the board’s decision [to go with Buto’s bid], insisting that state law clearly dictates that the board’s first responsibility must be to maintain the district’s fiduciary responsibility.” 

When School Board President Mary Scheutzow motioned for the contract naming Buto as buyer to be drawn up, the vote was held and passed, but not unanimously, according to Drollinger, with two members still voting “no.” 

The other offer on the table that night was from Brendan Weiden, who proposed a community center to take over the school’s location at the center of town, Tusten Town Council Member Anthony Ritter told Watershed Post today. 

Weiden, a long-time community member, had plans for the center to serve as a central location for community based activities and agritourism, Ritter said, which would lend itself more to the admittedly-limited space of the Narrowsburg School.

“I have heard more concern than positive comments from citizens,” Ritter said. “Not so much that it was a drug rehab center, the question is if this is the best location for it, since there basically is no acreage.”

A study by the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress found that at least 19 school buildings have been closed in the region since 2009.