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Brooke Board, BDC team up to find new use for surplus school buildings

Staff reports

The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle is teaming with the Brooke County Board of Education to repurpose school buildings in Follansbee and Wellsburg that won’t be needed once their new, consolidated middle school is up and running.

The board, which will retain ownership of the properties, tasked the BDC with figuring out the next best use for the two properties.

School Superintendent Toni Paesano Shute said they asked the development group to “not just repurpose these buildings, but to identify the best use of these properties for the taxpayers of Brooke County.”

BDC Executive Director Pat Ford said Brooke County is not the first to be “strapped with abandoned surplus school properties, which can be directly linked to not having the internal capacity to manage abandoned buildings and properties proactively or, worse, trying to market them on their own without engaging external economic development agencies.”

“It is important to note the Brooke (board) will retain ownership and final say in the disposition of these properties,” he said in a release announcing the collaboration. “The role of the BDC will be to leverage our relationships with state and federal agencies to obtain grant funding, where needed, to handle these buildings in an environmentally sensitive manner, paying great heed to the surrounding properties. Once the buildings are under the management of the BDC, we will be able to evaluate which alternative uses will provide…taxpayers the most value as well as sustained the vitality these schools have brought to our county.”
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