The city has finalized a deal to rent the College of St. Joseph gym virtually for free, partnering with city schools to replace a facility damaged by vandals.

The agreement, ratified Monday by the Board of Aldermen, has the city covering all utilities and minor repairs (defined as repairs costing $1,000 or less), handling mowing and plowing, paying $3,000 for the 1,100 gallons of heating oil currently in the tanks and taking out at least $2 million worth of insurance. The city also pledges to apply the first $9,000 in fees from renting the facility out for events to CSJ’s outstanding water and sewer bills.

Mayor David Allaire said the city and the school district will split the total operating cost of the facility, which he expects to come in between $40,000 to $50,000. The city had originally looked at a three-year lease of the building, but the contract approved Monday by the Board of Aldermen runs through the end of March.

“It’s going to get us through the basketball season, get us through winter,” Allaire said Tuesday. “We’re going to evaluate how it’s going — the basketball programs and our use. We also want to take a look at the building. We think it’s secure down there and the mechanicals are sound. We just want to make sure before we go even further.”

Allaire has said the city might eventually contemplate buying the building, which could serve several functions, and the lease could serve as an opportunity to kick the tires.

“There’s nothing like actually being in there and running it to see how it is,” he said.

A particular function in the short term, though, is the city schools’ varsity and junior varsity basketball games. Allaire said the regular facility suffered significant damage in August, when someone got into the building, plugged up a water fountain and left it running overnight.

“It severely damaged the floor of the gym to the point where it’s unusable and won’t be fixed until winter,” Allaire said.

Interim Superintendent David Wolk said the Keefe Gym was expected to be resurfaced early next year, and he did not have a cost estimate.

“Insurance is dealing with it now,” he said.

Wolk said he was glad for the opportunity to partner with the city on the CSJ gym.

“It’s a beautiful facility and it’s important the city makes use of it,” he said.

CSJ ceased instruction earlier this year after losing its accreditation, and is in the process of converting itself into an “innovation campus.”


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