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North Star Lease in Dilapidated Hadley School Extended 18 Months

HADLEY, Mass. (WGGB) — The Hadley Select Board voted Thursday to keep open the building they rent to the North Star Self Directed Learning for Teens community center. This was despite warnings from the town’s building inspector Timothy Neyhart of “severe life and safety issues”. He wanted it closed by January.

Built in 1894, the building on Russell Street across from the town hall was used as a public school until the 1990′s. North Star’s Executive Director and Co-Founder, Kenneth Danford, agrees the building’s in rough shape.

“In the long term, I think there are real concerns about the foundation, the porticos and entry ways, about some of the granite exterior stairs, about the interior electrical and plumbing systems all that kind of infrastructure,” said Danford. “Those concerns are real because the building’s old.”

But Danford said they don’t use the areas of largest concern such as the two exterior porticos.

The select board agrees with Danford that in the short term, there aren’t imminent safety risks to anyone. Danford said if there were, they wouldn’t stay. And even the inspector told the board the building wasn’t bad enough to be condemned. But in the long run, the board isn’t sure. In the spring, they will have an outside firm evaluate the structural integrity of the building and several other old ones owned by the town. And they’ve asked North Star to move.

“They gave North Star in effect 18 months notice pending the outcome of the results of the study, as well as, so long as, nothing life-threatening occurs within the building that would shorten that time-frame,” said David Nixon, Hadley Town Administrator.

“We’ve been going for 17 years,” said Danford. “And this is our third spot. And we’ll have a fourth. Maybe the fourth will be more permanent.”

Danford is confident they’ll have another location by June 2014 if not sooner.