An Amsterdam-based contractor purchased Schalmont’s old Mariaville Elementary School for $175,000 and plans to convert the vacant school building into apartments targeted to retirees and seniors.
The Schalmont school board approved the sale — after over four years on the market — last month to Bill Paro, who owns a contracting business in Amsterdam and works on projects throughout the region. He said the property will be his and his wife’s first major development investment.
“People who just retired want to sell their house and have a nice apartment they can go to,” Paro said. “We are looking to do something nice for the community that brings good people into the community.”
The sale is still being finalized; Paro said expects to take full possession of the property by the end of next month.
Paro didn’t want to go into greater details about the project until after the sale had been closed, but he said he expected to start with around a dozen apartment units that could be ready to go on the market by the end of the year.
In 2011, Schalmont closed Mariaville and Woestina elementary schools, consolidating the district’s elementary students at Jefferson Elementary School in Rotterdam. Woestina has been rented to the Capital Region BOCES for use in special education programs.
But the district decided at the time of its closing that there was not a district use for the Mariaville school, which sits on nearly seven acres at 9210 Mariaville Road. The district put the property up for sale, where it has been awaiting a buyer. While on the market, the district has had to continue to pay to maintain the property. The property is assessed at $165,000, according to Schenectady County tax rolls.
“We will yield some savings from the ongoing costs and with no intended use that makes sense,” said Joe Lenz, Schalmont business director.
Earlier this year, Patrick Carroll, of the non-profit Safety Village of the Capital Region, had attempted to raise enough money to purchase the Mariaville school and convert it to a safety village, a place where kids and families learn fire, bicycle, pedestrian safety and other life-saving skills.
Safyre Terry, who survived a horrific arson fire in 2013, endorsed the project. But the group wasn’t able to raise enough money to make a “viable offer” to the district, Carroll said. The school was a “perfect” size and structure for the safety village, but Carroll said his plans to open the region’s first safety village continue.
“The [district] was definitely willing to work with us,” Carroll said. “Ultimately, it was a business decision from their point that they needed to sell this.”