Durham voters will need to approve a $7 million bond to turn the old Korn school into a community center.
About 60 people gathered in the Francis E. Korn Elementary School, at 144 Pickett Lane, on July 31 to hear the latest from the Korn School Adaptive Reuse Feasibility Committee.
David Herr, committee chairman, said he wants to engage residents in the process by surveying which programs they would want in a community center, from teen and senior citizen activities, to utilization of the kitchen spaces, to an art center.
No one in the crowd plainly said they did not want a community center, but many questioned the cost and expressed displeasure at a mill rate increase.
“That’s not unexpected,” Herr said.
In addition to the bond, it’s estimated the community center annual operational costs would be nearly $188,000.
The town has wanted to acquire the former school and its surrounding land from Regional School District 13 for some time.
The plan to turn Korn into a community center was revealed in June 2017 and the six-member feasibility assessment committee was formed last fall.
The committee is tasked with determining best uses for the property and cost of renovations to use the former elementary school building as a community center.
Agendas and minutes are logged online.
The committee selected architecture and engineering firm Silver Petrucelli to conduct an adaptive reuse feasibility study on the Korn building.
Representatives from the Hamden-based firm presented the results and a cost estimate on July 31.
First Selectman Laura Francis hopes to have a referendum vote on the plan in December.
“We’re not going to have another shot at this,” she said. Before the referendum, the town plans to send an informational sheet to residents.
Information will also be available online, she said, to be as transparent as possible.
Another committee meeting for public input and presentations is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 6, 7 p.m., at Korn. The building will open at 6:30 p.m. so visitors can tour it.