Local officials have been unable to find a new location for Corner House, the nonprofit counseling center for adolescents that is currently located in the old Valley Road school building.
Corner House currently uses space in the old portion of the Valley Road School on Witherspoon Street. The school board of the Princeton Regional Schools has given the agency until November to find another home, but officials said last night they have not been able to find another location for the nonprofit that was founded by the borough and township in 1972 to help teens and young adults deal with substance abuse and family issues.
At a joint meeting of the borough council and township committee last night, Township Administrator Jim Pascale said the township has asked Superintendent of Schools Judith Wilson whether the school board could grant Corner House and extension to stay longer. The municipalities would be responsible for heating the space and for any liability issues.
The heating system in the old portion of the building has been cut off, and the newer portion of the building where the district’s administrative offices are located now has its own heating system. Pascale said in order for Corner House to stay past the beginning of November, either the old boiler would need to be reactivated of the township and borough would need to consider purchasing a smaller boiler for Corner House. Township Engineer Bob Kiser is looking at the options and a recommendation would be made to the borough and township joint finance committee about what steps to take.
“Time is of the essence since will be November before we know it,” Pascale said. “We are trying to expedite this and get it done some time this summer.”
Township Committee Member Bernie Miller cautioned that the school board would still need to approve the extension. He asked when the board will decide, but it was unclear last night.
“The school board recognizes the urgency,” Pascale said. “I suspect we will get an answer soon.”
“I’d like to get some assurance that the answer is going to be forthcoming,” Miller said.
Borough Councilwoman Jo Butler wanted to know if other agencies like TV 30 would be able to stay longer as well. Officials said it would be up to the school board to decide.
Councilman David Goldfarb said if other tenants were allowed to stay, they should provide proper insurance so the municipalities are not liable for anything.
The Valley Road School is owned by the school district, which has been debating what to do with the outdated facility, now that it can no longer justify spending education funds on it for repairs.
Last year, the school board solicited proposals for the future use of the site with a deadline of June 1 for submitting a plan. The board has not selected a proposal yet. At least two proposals have been submitted to the board.
The borough and township have submitted a proposal to demolish the school and build a new facility that would house Corner House, the fire department and the first aid and rescue squad. Corner House would still need a temporary home if that proposal is approved.
A competing proposal calls for the building to be converted to a community center for nonprofit organizations. That suggestion has gained momentum in recent months, with several nonprofit groups expressing interest in using space, including the Arts Council of Princeton and McCarter Theatre. Representatives from the group will make a presentation to the borough council about their proposal at the council meeting June 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Check back later for more details on the fire department plan for the Valley Road site. The plan was discussed during a presentation by a consultant about the future of the volunteer fire department in the two Princetons.