Plainville Fire District may raze old schoolhouse

The old schoolhouse of the Plainville Union School District may soon fade into our collective memories.

My story about the school appeared last January in the series "Lysander Goes To School," which ran in my regular column, "Looking Backward."

The Plainville Fire Department has used the old schoolhouse next-door to host meetings and other gatherings since May 17, 1961. On this date, the people of the former Plainville Common School District sold it to the Plainville Fire District for the price of one dollar. While I was researching the history of the schoolhouse, Captain Ed Healey of the Plainville Fire Department was kind enough to show me around the old building. During my tour, Ed explained that the building's construction may limit its ability to accommodate the growth and expansion of the fire department and its facilities next door.

To the best of my knowledge, this schoolhouse built in 1921 has two issues. First, the building's construction doesn't conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of physical or mental impairment, including access to public places. Currently, a short flight of wide, concrete steps provides the only entrance to the old schoolhouse. Second, it may also violate the New York State Public Employee Safety and Health Act of 1980 (PESH), which according to the New York State Department of Labor, "requires that employers furnish employees a workplace free from recognized hazards and in compliance with the safety and health standards applicable to the employer's workplaces." Again, the stairs pose a problem.

My article from last January warned that "for these reasons, Ed (Healey) fears that the building may not be around much longer." Sure enough, I received no less than three calls within 48 hours this past week from concerned citizens that the schoolhouse was in imminent danger of being destroyed. Allegedly, the commissioners of the Plainville Fire District unanimously, unilaterally and quietly voted to raze the building and replace it with a new one at a projected cost of about $250,000. This sum far exceeds the projected cost of about $25,000 to make the existing building compliant. As the elected commissioners of the fire district, it is their right and responsibility to ensure that the people of Plainville are protected from fires and other calamities. But, as citizens of the community, it is also their obligation to ensure that the people are aware of their plans for this local landmark.

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