Bath Landmarks Commission seeks answers about future of old school

by TRISH RUDDER

A sales agreement for the old school building on Green Street in Berkeley Springs is pending approval.

The Town of Bath’s Historic Landmarks Commission is concerned by the planned sale of the old school building on Green Street to Lotus Healthcare Group.

The building and the surrounding property is under contract to be sold by the county through the Economic Development Authority (EDA) for $200,000.

During an October 20 special meeting, a sale contract was approved pending a 120-day “due diligence” period. During that time, Lotus Healthcare Group can inspect the building and property thoroughly. They can back out of the sale during that time.

The property is to be used for a residential drug treatment center. There will be no outpatient drug treatment on the property, company and county officials have said.

EDA head Daryl Cowles told the Bath Town Council on October 20 that the EDA received a letter from the Landmarks Commission regarding the sale of the property.

At the council meeting, David Abruzzi, commission president, said the group’s concern is not the use of the building.

“The historic preservation of the structure is what we are concerned about,” he said.

He said the letter to the EDA pointed out the fact that there were no protections for the historic character of the structure in writing.

Town Recorder Susan Webster, who also sits on the EDA board, said the Landmarks Commission needs to talk with the company.

“We need to be assured the building will be kept as an historic structure, using those guidelines” Abruzzi said.

Abruzzi said the town has no ordinances in place to ensure the building’s historic character will be kept intact.

Mayor Scott Merki said the town council needs to meet with Daryl Cowles and the Landmarks Commission and “do it quickly.”

“He’s right, we don’t have town ordinances,” Merki said of Abruzzi.

“I want to be more informed about the building historically and what the building is planned to be used for,” Merki said.

He said he wants a history of the Harmison Field that is part of the property.

“I need all my facts,” Merki said.

Merki also said he was to blame for the fact that the town does not have historical structure ordinances in place.  Council members have discussed the proposed ordinance for close to two years.

Abruzzi said on Monday the Historic Landmarks Commission stands by the town council and the ordinance committee and has offered its assistance with developing ordinances and guidelines to protect the town’s historical buildings.

If Lotus Healthcare Group buys the property, it will need planning and building permit approval from the Town of Bath to renovate the structure.

A meeting between the Historic Landmarks Commission and Lotus Healthcare Group is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, October 29 at Bath Town Hall.

1 Comment

  1. R. Sherm on October 28, 2020 at 7:03 am

    Please preserve our City/County buildings; this is what makes us beautiful

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