The Highland Township Board and representatives from the Huron Valley School district met Tuesday night at a formal, public meeting, to discuss the now vacant Highland Middle School building.
The informational meeting was meant to allow the township board to ask school district officials questions regarding the property. The public was told at the start that the meeting would be a dialogue between only the board members and district. Any public questions were to be directed to Township Supervisor Triscia Pilchowski's office.
Township Trustee Barry Sherman was absent from the meeting.
The meeting was short, lasting only 20 or so minutes.
"It was our intent to come here tonight to start preliminary talks with the township about the building, and inform the board about what's happened up to this point," School Board President Sean Carlson said.
Carlson recapped that will allow Highland Township and the Village of Milford to mull over purchasing their respective vacant schools - Highland Middle School in Highland, and Baker Elementary in Milford - until March 31, 2013. If the township expresses no interest in purchasing the buildings at that time, the school board will either offer the buildings to other interested entities, or demolish the buildings and then sell the vacant land.
Most of the township board members were concerned with costs and asked the district to give them some analysis on how much maintenance and utilities cost when the district was running the buildings.
Trustee Ray Polidori also asked that the district let the board know the condition of the electrical system in the building, the condition of the boilers and the roof.
Polidori, a former school board member, also asked that the district retain the far parcel of land containing the five baseball diamonds. "There might be a time 10 or 20 years from now when the area experiences a growth, and the district may have to build a new school in Highland to accommodate. I would ask that the district consider keeping that parcel in reserve so that future school boards might have that option - should you demolish or sell the current building."
Pilchowski said the township will work with the district regardless of what's decided. "Whether we decided to consider purchasing the property or not, we will be happy to work with you (the district) and help promote the property."
Interim Superintendent Jim Baker told the board he would take all their questions and inquiries about the property, including how much of the parcel they were looking to sell, if they would split the parcels and the maintenance costs, and report back to the township.
Once the township board has all the information requested, Pilchowski said, the issue will be brought back before the board for further discussion.
Pilchowski urged any resident with questions to get them to her. "I will take the public's questions and try to get some answers for the next time we discuss the issue. Once we (the township board) are satisfied that we have the information we need, we will discuss where to go from here."