MONMOUTH — The fate of the Henry L. Cottrell Elementary School is in the hands of Monmouth voters.

They will be asked Nov. 5 whether they want the town’s Board of Selectmen to sell the school to a developer.

Henry L. Cottrell Elementary School and Monmouth Middle School students will move to a new consolidated school — Monmouth Memorial School — at the start of the 2020-21 school year.  

When the students move out, Regional School Unit 2 will deed the two facilities to Monmouth, as approved by voters during this summer’s town meeting

A school reuse task force, developed by the town, has been studying options for the buildings, including whether they should be used, sold or demolished. 

Town Manager Curtis Lunt said that the town does not have a need for the space of both buildings. 

“The committee felt the Cottrell School is better suited for housing,” he said, noting examples of such housing might be a nursing home or assisted living center. 

If voters approve selling, the town will put out a request for proposals in 2020 for development in the spring, according to Lunt. He said he does not think the town will receive money for the building.

“I would not expect that we would get a bunch of money for it,” Lunt said. “We are more interested in getting it developed.”

Potentially, the property could bring tax money to the town, but it is too early to say if or how much it could bring. 

Voting is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 5 at Cumston Hall.

While at the polls, a survey question will also be offered to residents concerning the use of Monmouth Middle School. Residents will be asked whether the facility should be a town-maintained community complex or if it should be sold for redevelopment. 

Results of the survey will be used to inform members of the school reuse task force when considering uses of the building. Responses to the survey will not ultimately determine the building’s use.

In either case, according to the survey, the building’s facade would be protected by certain restrictions. The facade is part of the original Monmouth Academy, dating to the 1800s, and Lunt expects restrictions will be enacted by the town to protect it. 

“That has historic value to the community,” he said. “It could be ‘whatever inside’ as long as the facade remains the same.” 

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