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Buyers Hope to Land Former Ridgefield Elementary School Building

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 The Millcreek School Board is selling the old Ridgefield Elementary School building, with a list price of $989,000.

Two potential buyers addressed the board at their meeting on Monday night. One is the Montessori Regional Charter School, the other, an engineering firm called Process and Data Analytics.
 
"Our company needs new space to continue our growth. This particular building suits us very well and provides us with minimal overhead to make that movement," said Joe Snyder, CEO of the engineering firm.

Process and Data made an offer for $950,000 on July 21st. Then last week, Montessori bid above the asking price, offering $1.1 million.

“It’s perfect for us, it's a little bit larger than our Sterrettania Road site,” said Anthony Pirrello, Montessori’s chief executive. “It will allow us to consolidate a year or two quicker, so we can just be one 500-600 student school throughout the Erie community,” Pirrello said.

Both addressed the school board at Monday's meeting. Process and Data said they just recently learned of Montessori’s bid, and that they're willing to negotiate on the price.

They also said that as owners of the Ridgefield building, they would be paying commercial taxes on the site, generating revenue for the district.

One point to note with Montessori - the Millcreek School District views the charter as somewhat of a competitor because with each student that enrolls in a charter school, the district loses state funding. 

But Montessori says their small size is just drop in the bucket compared to all the students of Millcreek. 

“We’re a regional asset, not just a local asset. We have 445 students and 76 come from Millcreek,” Pirrello said. “We have students from nine different districts and we’re not big enough, and we’ll never really be big enough, to harm any district's budget,” he said.

William Hall, Millcreek’s school board supervisor says the decision process is still in the very early stages and there's no timeline yet for a decision, but that both offers will be seriously considered.

“I think we have to take a look at all the offers that come forward for the building, including the Montessori offer,” Hall said. “We have to come together and decide what’s best for the district and its going to take time.”

 Process and Data is getting prepared in case the building sale goes in their favor.

“At the point the offer was placed on the property, it was a requirement the building would have to be approved by Millcreek Township to move a C1, which is a light commercial operation,” Snyder said.

Rezoning the Ridgefield building for commercial use is on the Millcreek zoning board’s Tuesday agenda, but it’s all just a part of the process.  Even if rezoned, the building could still be used for a school.

Pirrello says there’s a way both parties can find the buildings they need.

“I don't want to cost him his building, I want to find a way for him to win as well,” Pirrello said.

He suggested to Snyder last week the idea that Snyder purchase the Montessori building on Sterrettania Road, which is already licensed for commercial use, for the expansion of Process and Data.

Snyder said it’s not “on their radar at this point,” but also said it’s not out of the question.

That call came to us on Friday. Since we're working with a commercial realtor, if he shows us the site as a potential, we may be willing to look at it. But as it stands right now, I've only driven the by the building once,” Snyder said.
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