Meriden finalizes purchase of school department maintenance facility

reporter photo

MERIDEN — The commercial facility at 998 N. Colony Road, a section of which the Board of Education has leased for the past nine years, is now under city ownership. 

City leaders on April 8 finalized a sale for the 2.6-acre property and immediately recorded it in the city clerk’s office. The final cost, including a $709,485.61 purchase price, was $729,144.20. Bonds will cover its cost. 

City Manager Timothy Coon, who received City Council authorization to negotiate the sale, confirmed it had been finalized late last week. 

Robert Kosienski Jr., president of the Meriden Board of Education, said the board is “very appreciative of the purchase.”

He added, “It’s an exceptional deal, to gain the additional space that we need.”

The building on the property is more than 31,000 square feet. The space within it that the school department has leased to date is about 15,000 square feet. With the purchase, the department will gain an additional 10,000 square feet of space that was previously occupied by the property’s former owner. City records list the previous owner as Dominick A. DeRobertis Jr.

According to figures included in the school department’s budget for fiscal 2021, the annual cost to lease the facility was $53,000. Officials said that instead of having a lease obligation, the board now will be responsible for paying down the city’s mortgage on the property.  Officials were still working out that cost, explained Michael Grove, assistant superintendent for the Meriden Public Schools. 

“The way we worked it out is the Board of Education will pay for the cost of the building,” Grove said. 

The school department has used the facility for storage and to house maintenance equipment, including snow removal and other mechanical equipment.  

Kosienski estimated that during the years the school department has leased the facility it has invested significantly to increase its capacity and improve operations, including adding loading dock and purchases of large refrigerators and freezers for food storage and other loading equipment. The city’s purchase preserves that investment, Kosienski said. 

The facility’s other longtime tenant, Hogan’s Alley Paintball, will continue to lease the section that houses its operations. Officials did not disclose details of a new agreement with Hogan’s owners, citing ongoing negotiations. 

The proposal to purchase the property outright received Board of Education support in late 2019. During a meeting in December of that year, the board voted to authorize Kosienski to write a letter seeking approval from city officials to make the purchase. At the time of that vote, officials estimated the property would cost around $995,000.

Grove said around 30 school department employees currently work out of the building, which has housed various maintenance operations, including electrical repair, plumbing, carpentry, small engine repair and others. The additional space will enable district officials to further centralize its food service operations, which will grow with the additional space. 

That space will also allow the school department to reorganize the facility overall, improving its efficiency, Grove explained. The facility, as it is currently organized, is tight on space. 

“We’ve had to continually move equipment to get at shelves and racks,” Grove said. “This will allow us to spread out more and become more efficient.”

Officials determined purchasing the property would be more cost effective than moving into a new facility. Grove estimated it would have cost between $200,000 to $300,000 to move all of the equipment and supplies currently stored there into a new facility. 

“By the city purchasing it, in the long run will save us money,” Grove said. 


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