If all goes according to plan, The Labrador School Board will soon have full title to the Robert Leckie School property, which is located in Spruce Park. Once that process is complete, which should be in the near future, the School Board plans to sell it to a private contractor, which will use the land to develop residential units.
“I think it’s a positive move forward because we’ll get some development there,” said Director of Education Henry Windeler, who also lives in Spruce Park. “We have no use for the building, it’s surplus. So we want to get rid of it, and make it available to whoever as soon as we can.”
Robert Leckie has been closed as a school since 1998. The main part of building, which contains asbestos, is condemned and not used for anything. But over the years, the gymnasium has been used for storage
“The gym’s not unsafe. We’ve had hazardous materials testing done,” insists Windeler.”
Besides the gym being used as mini warehouse, Robert Leckie has been sitting there as an eyesore. So why hadn’t the School Board sold the land off earlier? According to Windeler, it was impossible to construct anything new in Spruce Park for several years.
“The whole thing is rather complicated…spruce park had a no building (restriction) because of low level flying…there wasn’t any opportunity to sell the land because of the low level flying. They changed that two years ago,” said Windeler.
Once the School Board’s application for the title is finally approved, it shouldn’t take long to put the Robert Leckie property on the market. The Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay had previously rezoned the land from public to residential low density (RDL) in 2008. According to Town Manager Wyman Jacques, the property may be able to contain 15-16 lots. But that number could change depending on the wishes of the developer, in conjunction with town zoning regulations.
Robert Leckie is already located in a residential neighbourhood. So whatever happens with the old school will affect those living on the same street. Opinions on the inevitable development differ amongst its neighbours.
“It’s and eyesore around here. Most people would like to see it go,” said one lady who lives across from Robert Leckie.
But another person, who also lives across the street from the building, has more concerns. She enjoys living in that area because it’s quiet and not crowded.
“I’m concerned with construction,” she said. “Traffic wise, it will certainly pick up…I’m not against development but there’s things you got to look at.”
The concerned resident is also worried about safety issues when they tear down the old building.
“It’s the demolition part of it (I’m concerned with),” she said. “I know there’s asbestos…that’ll be in the air right across from where I live.”
But Henry Windeler says there’s no need to be worried about the asbestos, when it comes time for demolition.
““Every building in Goose Bay, built prior to a certain date, all the houses in Spruce Park, had asbestos in it,” says Windeler. “There are companies in goose available (to remove) it…the statues are very clear in guidelines for removing asbestos.”
The School Board hasn’t been able to give a timeline on the completion of the title application process, or when the property will be up for sale. Henry Windeler did say, however, that it should happen sooner rather than later. There has been no estimate given on the value of the property.