The former headquarter of the Paterson school district on Church Street may be rehabilitated and brought back online, said school district officials on Wednesday evening.
Steve Morlino, facilities director for the schools, said the district could repair the building which has been abandoned for some years for a “reasonable sum” and turn it into a school building. In order to do so, the district has to fix the building’s roof, replace windows, repair interior walls, and install a new ventilation system, said the director.
Before the repair work can be completed the district has to abate the asbestos within the building, said Morlino. School board president Jonathan Hodges said a severe leak on the fourth floor damaged the building that resulted in the discovery of a great deal of asbestos which resulted in the district abandoning the building for an office facility on Delaware Avenue.
Morlino inspected the building on 32 Church Street. “Structurally the building is in good condition,” he said. “I got to question why it was abandoned in the first place.”
Hodges pointed out that water has been getting into the building for six or more years. “Water is actually a good thing when it comes to asbestos,” said the director. “What you want to do when you work with asbestos is to wet it down during the removal process it prevents it from becoming airborne.”
Morlino said the water may have actually helped with the asbestos removal.
Morlino said the water also resulted in damages to floors above the second floor that will have to be renovated before anything can be done with the building.
Hodges asked if the building would be brought back online as a school or an office facility for the district. “We’d probably bring it back online as a school facility,” responded Morlino. The director said the building lacks the space needed to allow the district headquarter to be relocated to its old home from its leased office building on 90 Delaware Avenue.
“We’re spending so much money on leases,” added Errol Kerr, school board member. “I think the cost to rehabilitate that building won’t be $4 million.”
Kerr referred to the $4 million the district has been spending on rented classroom space throughout the city. He said he’d like to see the building be added on the fast track list for rehabilitation.
The actual cost to repair and restore the building for use has not yet been determined, said the director.
State-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans said the building is on the district’s long-range facilities plan which is the first step in getting it back online.
“At this point it would be less expensive to re-adopt the use of that building for a school facility,” said Morlino. “It’s a cost saving in the long run.”