ShareThis Page
News

Judge approves $1.7 million sale of former Ligonier Valley school

Paul Peirce
| Tuesday, June 23, 2015, 11:24 p.m.

A Westmoreland County judge gave formal approval Tuesday to the $1.7 million sale of the defunct Laurel Valley Middle/High School to a firm with plans to lease the building for use as a drug and alcohol treatment center.

President Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. gave the go-ahead for the sale to Western PA Coal Resorts LLC. The Ligonier Valley School Board approved the purchase in April.

The company plans to pen a 20-year lease for the property with Retreat, a firm that operates rehabilitation centers in Lancaster County and Palm Beach County, Fla. The school building is about 12 miles north of Ligonier on Route 711.

The proposal has drawn mixed reaction in the community. Some would like to have the property returned to the tax rolls, while others are concerned about the impact of an addiction treatment center in the area.

In rubber-stamping the deal, McCormick said, “there appears to be no evidence for me not to approve the sale. It appears the school district and its representatives have done their due diligence.”

McCormick heard testimony from two real estate brokers — Anthony Ferry of Keller Williams Realty of Pittsburgh and Donald Kramer of Berkshire Hathaway Preferred Realty in Ligonier — called by school district solicitor Dennis Rafferty.

Although they were not involved in the sale, Ferry and Kramer said the district received a “fair and reasonable” price for the two parcels that total 66 acres and the school building, which was closed in June 2010.

Kramer said that in today's real estate market, “(school properties) can be very difficult to sell ... kind of a white elephant. There are few businesses that have a use for them."

District Superintendent Christine Oldham testified Western PA Coal Resorts' offer for the property was the first received in the four years the school district attempted to sell it.

School board Vice President Jack McDowell said the district has spent at least $70,000 annually in maintenance costs related to the closed building and property. He added that the firm anticipates hiring about 100 people the first year of operation and as many as 200 thereafter.

Although several residents spoke against the sale at public meetings this year, no one appeared at the hearing Tuesday to oppose the sale.

Rafferty said the board was required under state School Code to seek a judge's approval because it was a private sale.

Paul Peirce is a reporter for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at ppeirce@tribweb.com or 724-850-2860.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me