Town Council approves purchase of St. Jude School for community center

St. Jude Catholic Church, 707 Monroe Turnpike, had operated a school on its property for decades before closing it in 2018.

MONROE, CT — First Selectman Ken Kellogg announced that the town approved an agreement with St. Jude Parish to purchase the former St. Jude school property at 707 Monroe Turnpike. It is the first step in his vision for a Monroe Community Center on what will become an expansion of the Town Hall Campus, according to a press release issued Tuesday.

The purchase agreement approved by Town Council during its meeting Tuesday is contingent upon various municipal approvals, including voter approval at a Town Meeting.

According to the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding executed last year, the town’s purchase price was not to exceed $2,300,000. The Town and St. Jude agreed to a final purchase price of $1,775,750, to account for the costs of various deferred maintenance items the town would work to address upon closing.

Kellogg said the Community Center would be implemented in phases. Initially, the Monroe Parks & Recreation Department would have the immediate ability to increase programs and services, while allowing St. Jude to continue to use the second floor for up to ten hours per week.

Long-term, the town has the ability to fully renovate the facility to accommodate additional services and municipal offices.

“This is consistent with the town’s long-term space needs study conducted by DeCarlo & Doll, Inc.,” Kellogg said. “That study concluded that while the school building is older construction, the benefits to the town are significant, and that its acquisition would be a rare opportunity to substantially add to the Town Hall campus and open up much-needed space at Town Hall.”

“While the former Chalk Hill School was also evaluated in that plan, DeCarlo & Doll confirmed that re-establishing use of that building would cost taxpayers more than $10 million, but most importantly, full utilization of that space was most challenging due to it being on a school campus,” Kellogg said.

“Any municipal use of Chalk Hill would be extremely limited to be consistent with a school campus setting with specific security concerns,” said Kellogg. “The town administration had explored various options for that building, including use by various outside educational organizations, however none have come close to full occupancy nor were able to adequately support the significant renovation costs.”

“More importantly, in the face of increased enrollment, our Board of Education has appropriately asked that the Chalk Hill location and building be included in their upcoming overall facility needs study,” he said.

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