Officials mull over Fairlawn School sale

Officials mull over Fairlawn School sale

LINCOLN – The future of the former Fairlawn Elementary School property is again a topic of discussion among Lincoln officials, who have begun discussing the possibility of selling the property to help expand other elementary schools in town.

Members of both the Lincoln School Committee and the Town Council said they would be in favor of pursuing the sale of the former Fairlawn School to Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy.

BVP is currently under a 10-year lease agreement with the town, approved in 2014, two years after BVP moved its middle school students into the building.

By the end of the agreement, Lincoln is expected to receive more than $162,000 from BVP.

Councilor TJ Russo, who sat on the subcommittee that negotiated the 2014 contract, said the biggest caveat with selling to BVP would be that, “any funds raised from the sale would go into a restricted account used specifically to expand some of the elementary schools.”

Looking at a “slight uptick” in certain grade levels, Russo noted that there has been rising pressure from residents to create more space for students in overcrowded classrooms.

On that note, he said Fairlawn isn’t a great option for re-opening, mostly due to its location. Fairlawn reopening as a Lincoln elementary school would also require extensive redistricting.

“Reopening that school would probably be overkill. It would have to be staffed with a principal, administrative staff and a whole new slew of teachers,” he said.

In short, he said officials are hoping if BVP was willing to purchase the building, the money from the sale would be used to put an addition on one of the existing elementary schools.

In approaching BVP with the idea, Russo said they’d like for the town to retain the right of first refusal, which would assume that if BVP bought the building and decided to someday sell that the town could step in to purchase it back.

Town solicitor Anthony DeSisto said a sale of town property would not go through the Financial Town Meeting like leases do.

The optional methods of sale are via competitive sealed bidding, public auction or through the services of a public real estate broker. DeSisto said a fourth option is reserved for nonprofits like BVP that gives the Town Council permission to directly negotiate with the nonprofit for a property.

Town Administrator Joseph Almond sits on BVP’s board of directors, leaving the task of negotiations to Council President Keith Macksoud.

Councilors opted to reach out to BVP via both parties’ lawyers to begin talks and weigh the school’s interest.