Supervisors to Consider Returning WREC to School District

The loss of tenants and the expense of necessary renovations has made the building too costly for the township.

The ongoing question regarding the fate of Warminster's may finally be answered tonight at the Board of Supervisors meeting.

On the agenda for tonight is a resolution that authorizes township manager Rich Manfredi and solicitor Mary Eberle to close the building and return the property to the .

Manfredi said the Warminster Parks and Recreation Department took a hit last year when several tenants ended their leases and moved their operations to Leary Elementary. Compounded with the cost of necessary building repairs, including a new roof, has made retention of the WREC too expensive.

"Our current tenants are also getting hit hard by the economy," said Manfredi. "One of them asked us to reduce the rent by 50 percent, but we just cannot afford that."

Preparations are underway to relocate parks and recreation programs to other facilities in the township, such as the community room at the . Manfredi has been negotiating the acquisition of a 2,500 square-foot modular building that would be placed in Warminster Community Park.

"When the storage shed at ," said Manfredi, "a company in New Jersey offered us the unit. It was too large to accommodate our needs there, but the company agreed to sell it to us at a nominal fee for other parks and recreation needs."

The township will not receive any monetary compensation for the return of the building, but Manfredi hopes the move will give the Centennial administration more incentive to pay back $272,000 that he feels is owed to Warminster.

Warminster has held the lease for the former Hart Elementary school since 1988, but the school district maintained a reversionary clause for the property. The existence of this clause would allow the school district to take back possession of the property if either the township ceased using it for educational purposes or if Centennial demonstrated an imminent need for the space.

Fears of spending large amounts of money to renovate the building only to see it repossessed by the school district prevented any major work from being performed.

and between the two parties have been ongoing for years. In 2009, an agreement was made for Warminster to purchase the reversionary clause from Centennial for $1 million. Of the sale price, $272,000 would come from the waiver of zoning and permit fees for the construction of the new high school, and the remainder would be funded by an open space grant from Bucks County. The grant fell through, but the waivers were still enacted.

Since the reversionary clause was never sold to the township, Manfredi thinks the school district should pay the money back.

"That is a separate issue, though," said Manfredi. "The return of the property would not be held up by that matter."

Manfredi would also like to open discussions about using school grounds for parks and recreation programs, but communication between the township and Centennial has not been ideal.

"They won't talk about providing us space until we present a full proposal," said Manfredi, "but I can't compile a proposal until I know if they have space and how much we can get. We're talking in circles right now."

Centennial administrators were unavailable for comment at this time. 

Susan Knorr August 16, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Hasn't the school district already sold the Leary property? If so, BCIU will need space once again and others using the current Leary property will need space. Doesn't it just make sense to hold onto the WREC, fix it up and continue to provide the community with the quality programs that they have offered for many, many years???
James Boyle (Editor) August 16, 2012 at 07:05 PM
The Centennial Operations committee approved a new lease agreement with BCIU and Head Start that will give them space at the new Davis Elementary. The agreements go before the full school board on Aug. 21. http://warminster.patch.com/articles/sale-of-schools-close-to-finish-line
Pete Krenshaw August 16, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Who's to say the BCIU and other renters currently at Leary would like to return to the WREC? Didn't they leave the WREC for a reason?
HONEST MOM August 16, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Why not just give the township the building if they want it? The school district won't be using it! Our community uses the WREC. Countless groups use the rooms, Basketball is played in the gym for the league and our kids need somewhere to be able to go! If the school district owes the township money why not just pay it back so they can fix up the WREC and keep it open?
Mike B August 17, 2012 at 02:06 AM
They want $1 million for the WREC property but only $1.33 million for Leary, Longstreth, and Stackpole? By that math I think the unpaid zoning fees almost pay for the building.
matplus August 17, 2012 at 05:33 PM
If the Township just wants to give it away to get out from under the maintenance and repair expense, why not donate it or sell it for a nominal amount to a community based non-profit that would keep the WREC in-tack, all its programs and camps, lease out the many rooms to special needs organizations, day-care, senior, and scouting groups, after-school programs, gymnastics and fitness programs. Athletic organizations could maintain the outside grounds for their seasonal sporting programs. These on-going fees plus local business donations and fund raisers could sustain the WREC. Adult evening school classes might be another source of revenue. Folks, let's think outside the box, before it becomes a cluster of townhomes.
James Boyle (Editor) August 17, 2012 at 05:36 PM
The reversionary clauses would not allow the township to go that route. Once it stops being used for municipal purposes, the school district can take it back.
Pete Krenshaw August 17, 2012 at 05:55 PM
matplus - You need to do some homework here. According to what I saw on TV last night from the meeting, the Township can not sell the building to anyone because they do not own the building outright. The School District has the final say on it due to deed restrictions and reversionary clauses. The WREC has been sustained in the past due to subsidizing the cost of maintenance and programs with tenants which have been stolen by the School Board. Maintenance performed were minimal band-aids due to the fear caused by the reversionary clause in which the School District can take back the building whenever they want. I may also add the School District has no interest in removing the reversionary clauses or deed restrictions. Finally, townhouses are not permitted in the R2 residential zoning district which this land is made up of so that fear will not manifest into reality. This is not solely a Township created problem. I would actually say that the root of this problem really originates with the School District who seems unwilling to negotiate. Mr. Feinberg asked some very good rhetorical questions about how a publicly elected board such as the School District can sign a resolution in a public meeting and then reneg on it afterwards. As taxpayers in Warminster, we are all being screwed by the 9 headed snake which is the Centennial School District Board. At the end of the day, the WREC can not be sustained due to CSD Board Members' decisions. Well now they can have it back...
Pamela September 11, 2012 at 04:55 PM
I say give it back the SD, sue them for the $272,000 in fees that they never paid, and renovate the library!
Sarah Ronzelli September 11, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Pamela, I say SD sues the Township for $778,000. they never paid and SD and fixes McDonald parking lot.
Pamela September 11, 2012 at 05:15 PM
The SD owns McDonald parking lot...not the township...Why should Warminster residents have to fix something that the SD owns....
Pamela September 11, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Where did you get that the township owes the SD $778,000????
Pete Krenshaw September 11, 2012 at 07:04 PM
I believe what Sarah is trying to say that the Township owes the remainder of $1M but this would be assuming the WREC is still available for purchase from the school district, which from what I have been hearing is not the case. If the Township could have procured the Open Space money from the County (which unfortunately is not a possibility, otherwise it would have happened), THEN the open space money from the County would have been combined with the other $272k+ to make up $1M. I think people need to realize what the Township Supervisors voted on when they agreed to a "$1M deal" for the WREC building and associated land. From my understanding, they were agreeing amongst themselves to pay $1M comprised of open space funds (if available) and breaks on land development and construction fees for the school building projects. They did not agree to a "contractual obligation with the school district" to purchase the WREC building for $1M. So Sarah, the Township is owed the $272k+. It is not the other way around. You must be the only person that is actually supporting the school district in this case. It is their fault all of this started in the first place.
Pete Krenshaw September 11, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Sarah - How many times do you need to see their (the school district's) incompetence on display before you will acknowledge it? Off the top of my head we have the consolidations of schools, the hiring of administrators, the addition of a planetarium to the High School after construction already started, the debacle last year at Willow Dale when they were going to open, the debacle at McDonald with the parking situation, the late purchase of playground equipment at Davis which probably doubled its cost when they knew all along they needed one, the planning of bus routes and bell schedules, the numerous lawsuits involving the school district and their administration. It is ridiculous when you see it listed and this is just a small list and (my fear) only the tip of the iceberg.
Sarah Ronzelli September 12, 2012 at 11:46 AM
P. Krenshaw, you can put a spin to this sale all you want! You know there was a signed agreement between both parties, the School District and the Township. The legal battle can be settled in a court of law. My concern is the Wrec is closing in December and the Supervisors are looking for space for programs! I believe and have stated before that "the space to continue programs" should have been completed before closing the Wrec. The political agenda is sad, our children are the ones who will suffer. I have been informed that organizations that use space in the Wrec have been told, you will have to find another place to hold your programs. Will the Library let these group have space? Will the Senior center let them use their center for children's programs? The bottom line is WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN GOING TO HAVE THEIR PROGRAMS? A plan should have been put in place before any announcement of a closure was done! The children of our Township will suffer and the politics will continue.
Pamela September 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Actually the township has been in talks with the SB and the SD but they refuse to budge. This whole mess comes down to the politics on the SB not the Township. Once again the children lose to the members of the SB. Warminster can not sustain the cost to keep the WREC habitable. The SB has dragged their feet for years on this situation and unfortunately with Warminster Township not purchasing the WREC, that leaves the SD no option but to sell it. The SB is so concerned about Charter Schools moving into their free space and taking money away from the SD, that they are selling ALL of their properties at a fraction of the cost. We saw this with all of the closed elementary schools and the SB members have admitted that this is why the properties were so cheap. I wonder how low the WREC property will sell for....
Pamela September 12, 2012 at 12:26 PM
And lets not forgot that the majority of tennants that were at the WREC moved out into Leary elementary last year.
Pete Krenshaw September 12, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Sarah - Did you know there is already a ton of space within the community paid for by the taxpayers which has been used for the past several years by the Township? And no, I am not referring to the WREC. I am referring to the other school space which still exists... Within Warminster there are 2 elementary schools, a middle school and a high school which in the past were utilized by the Township Parks & Rec for programming without issue. For some reason all of these facilities which should be open for public use are no longer being discussed between the Township and the School Board as the district is unwilling to communicate/negotiate. So you can keep blaming the Township but it is misplaced angry you are expressing. If you are as truly concerned as you appear to be, you should look to the district and ask them why these facilities are no longer a part of the solution. It should not come down to a lawsuit to settle this issue. What a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars to have one public entity sue another with our money being used on both sides. And again for the record, I am not "P. Krenshaw" - I am Pete Krenshaw but I am assuming you are referring to me.
Pete Krenshaw September 12, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Also Sarah, do you know the difference between a motion and a resolution? There was no signed agreement of sale which states there will be a payment of $1M to the School District. I have not seen any of the actual documents but I am sure if there were ANY agreements it would contain contingencies, such as funding as outlined previously, as you would find on any real estate agreement. Guess what Sarah, the funding as originally voted on by motion as an intent by the Township never materialized.
Sarah Ronzelli September 13, 2012 at 04:11 AM
P.Krenshaw, To reply to your question to myself, you need a motion and a second to have a resolution. So, you are trying to tell me that the Township gets the title from the School District and there is no signed agreement. Perhaps you should check the Township minutes. Check with any Supervisor and ask who got the appraisal for the Wrec center! Another of your points, the funding by the Township never materialized, yes you are correct, since the Township never applied for Open Space funds. The bottom line in all of this to me is, closing the Wrec center before you have space aquired for programs is just plain bad planning. The children of our community will suffer because their programs do not have space.
Pete Krenshaw September 13, 2012 at 04:29 AM
A motion that passes does not constitute a resolution. Next you will be telling me a waiver and a variance are the same thing. All agreements of sale for real estate have contingencies and the source of funding would certainly be one in this case. If you have been paying attention you would realize by now that pursuing the open space funds would be pointless once the County educated the Township that there would be NO WAY the funding would be approved as planned. We are going in circles as you refuse to see the facts for what they are. It is apparent we agree on one thing, the programs enjoyed by children and adults alike will most likely suffer as their does not appear to be adequate space currently available. And if you would pay attention, you would realize the main source of this is the school district. Currently, they refuse to negotiate so why don't you join the rest of us in approaching them about this? There is absolutely no reason an amicable solution to provide adequate space for the existing programs can not be found between the Township and the school district. They, like you, are too stubborn to listen to reason. They have taken their proverbial ball and gone home, refusing to even talk about the situation. As was stated previously, they will not even approve space which has been used by the Township for the last several years... I love flushing my money down the tiolet yet that is the way our school district operates.
HONEST MOM September 13, 2012 at 10:19 AM
I've heard that 2 modular units were being purchased to house the offices of the Wrec employees and will be placed @ community park. I'm sure that solves the problem of the offices but what about the programs? I've also heard that the SB has not approved any requests for using the schools. I'm being told that the papers are being shuffled around and no decisions are being made. I'm tired of this crapola! I'm tired of the school board playing with my hard earned money. I have to wonder why those people are on the school board. Why on earth did they want to be on the school board when it's obvious they do not have the best interests of the kids and the community at heart? New schools that were rammed down our throats when all most of us wanted was to keep our neighbor schools that most of our kids walked to, forcing our district to bus almost all children to mega schools where the kids are overwhelmed, showing their muscle and spending far too much money on schools most of us didn't even want! There might be one or two on that board who think before they make decisions. I can't figure out for the life of me why the rest of them are there except to boost their own egos! Please leave the school board! This community just can't afford you anymore! You've done enough damage now please leave!!!
Sarah Ronzelli September 13, 2012 at 12:17 PM
P. Krenshaw, Your total lack of knowledge regarding; motions, resolutions, waviers and variances is unbelieveable. You act like you have seen the sale and all related papers to the sale of the Wrec center. Well if this is the case, please share this information with myself and all others who are interested in this situation. You keep mixing apples and oranges to prove your point. Now please clarify.
Pamela September 13, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Sarah do you understand the difference between the "clause" and the actual building? The WREC building was not in negoiation, It was the 'reversionary" clause at a going price of $1M. The purchase of the building would have been another discussion. Do you not know that the SB offered Leary to the Township for $1M and REFUSED to go lower, but sold it to a DEVELOPER for $425K...How can it exist in your mind that CSD did no wrong? The township has tried to talk to the SB about renting space in the "mega" schools for WREC program and the SB is not being reasonable. No sane taxpayer would even trust the SB. Its not the townships fault that they thought they could apply for open space grants, only to find out that the property OWNED by the SD was already covered under open space..Why didn't the SB inform the township that they already had "open space" for the property...Because the SB got out of paying Warminster $272K in waivers and permits for the high school. They deliberately withheld vital information from the township....And YOU support these snakes....
Sarah Ronzelli September 13, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Pamels, Please inform me with your statement :Why didn't the SB inform the township that they alread had "open space" for the property? Perhaps, you are missing my point, i care about programs for my children and all other children in our Community! When I see problems with space for these program, it brings to my attention this whole situation which is up in the air as of this time frame. My children attend CSD and are getting a good education and if there were not, I would move to another SD. For you to state I am supporting the Township or the SD is not my goal, they can fight all they want. Just give me the facts and get the space for our programs and I do believe we will all be satified.
Pamela September 13, 2012 at 02:32 PM
The township has been trying to negoiate with the school board for space for WREC classes for years. The SB has no desire to cooperate. It is their way or no way. What would you like our township to do? pull a space out of thin air? This isn't something that just happened overnight, the township has been working on this issue since I moved here! Sorry to say unless you want to pay more taxes for the township to buy property outright, their options are limited without the cooperation of the SD, and most classes will probably be cut. My children also attend CSD, which is not the blue ribbon is used to be,they got rid of neighborhood schools where children were not a number and the good teachers that taught them. CSD is now quantity over quality, which is not why I moved my children here. Unfortunately the sale price of most properties in the township are nowhere near what is owed on them. I would love for a charter school to open, then I would have an option.
Pete Krenshaw September 13, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Sarah - so are you telling me a variance and a waiver are the same thing?? I understand you care for the needs of the children but you can not ignore the facts. I have been trying to communicate them to you in a way you can understand but it doesn't look like we will find success. I have not seen any agreement of sale and honestly, I don't think a formal agreement of sale was ever in place. As for apples and oranges, I have no idea where you are getting that from. It seems like you will only see it from one perspective. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I am not saying your opinion doesn't count. But at the same time, you can not ignore the facts previously presented; not just by me but by the Township and numerous other people posting comments.


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