Due to potentially staggering renovation expenses, officials of Holy Family Parish have opted to demolish the former St. Joseph School in Wayland in November.
Father Stephen Karani, parochial administrator, made the announcement in a letter to Holy Family parishioners in the Sept. 17 bulletin. He noted that the decision had been made at a special meeting July 25, when the proposal was approved unanimously by the parish’s pastoral and finance councils.
Father Karani’s letter explained that the building needed a new roof, which would cost at least $250,000. Additional money also was needed to fix substandard plumbing, boiler problems and a gas leak; remove asbestos, which was at an unsafe level; and make the building handicapped accessible.
“To address these, and other issues, would result in a significant expense that would temporarily patch an old building. Further maintenance, at a considerable cost to the parish, would be expected,” Father Karani wrote.
Asbestos removal and demolition, on the other hand, is estimated to cost $134,000. Asbestos is due to be removed between Oct. 16 and Nov. 13, and general demolition will occur from Nov. 13 to 24. LaBella Associates P.C., a Rochester-based engineering and architectural firm, has been contracted for the project.
Prior to the demolition, valuable items from St. Joseph School will be made available at a parishioner sale Oct. 3 (noon to 8 p.m.); a general sale Oct. 4 (noon to 8 p.m.); and a salvage sale Oct. 7-14. In addition, bricks from the school building will be sold as commemorative items. Father Karani added that the cornerstone and school sign will be displayed in the future to honor the school’s memory.
St. Joseph School had provided Catholic education in northern Steuben County since 1884, with the present building having opened in 1932. The school closed in June 2004 due to declining enrollment; there were only 89 students in grades pre-kindergarten through 6 in the school’s final year of 2003-04. St. Joseph consolidated with Dansville’s St. Mary School in the fall of 2004 to form the new Holy Family School.
Since that time, the St. Joseph building had served as the religious-education center for Holy Family Parish (St. Joseph Church, Wayland; Sacred Heart, Perkinsville; St. Pius V, Cohocton; and St. Mary, Dansville.) Due to the facility’s mounting physical problems, religious-education classes were moved earlier this year to the community center at Sacred Heart Church.
Though demolishing St. Joseph School appears a sound practical decision, Father Karani acknowledged that this chapter in history is difficult for many folks with close ties to the school.
“Some of the people are passionate about it. We’re listening and talking to them,” he told the Catholic Courier, adding that throughout this process “we tried to keep communication going. I think the people understand that we cannot keep the building and it is not going to help us for our needs.”
On the positive side, Father Karani said that the school property will be developed into some future use for the parish. For that reason, the property was never put up for sale.
“We want to do one thing at a time. There are no immediate plans, but we need that space for our gatherings in the coming future,” Father Karani told the Courier, adding that at this point there are “all kinds of ideas. We’re just kind of brainstorming. We’re still in the very, very early stages, but we are very hopeful.”
The demolition of St. Joseph’s School is part of an ongoing master plan in Holy Family Parish. The plan addresses the dilemma of maintaining more buildings at the four church sites than the parish currently needs.