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Heritage to buy former school; Preschool program moving to Green Acres

Heritage Centers is looking to change its status from renter to owner of a former school in the Town of Tonawanda.

The nonprofit organization's $850,000 offer for Green Acres Elementary School, on Yorkshire Road, was accepted by the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School Board at its last meeting. In April, district residents voted in favor of selling the 72,767-square-foot building for at least that amount.

Heritage Centers, which serves the developmentally disabled and their families, has been leasing approximately 40 percent of the school for programs for school-age children.

The organization has had its eye on the building for several years, according to Executive Director Michael L. Gross. Last December, the Ken-Ton School Board adopted a resolution stating the property was of no further use to the district once the current school year ends.

"When we heard about Green Acres, we got extremely excited," Gross said last week.

Though the offer has been accepted, the organization and school district still have many issues to tackle before it's a done deal.

The district's "to-do" list includes establishing a separate water meter and watering station for the athletic fields that it's retaining, according to Ken-Ton Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro.

Gross said the transaction must be approved by the organization's board of directors, among others.

"Given those contingencies, I would say we'd love to be in there by the beginning of the new year," Gross said.

The purchase is spurring several moves for the organization's programs.

Preschool-age youngsters who currently attend programs on the third floor of the former Washington School in Kenmore will go to Green Acres.

"We needed to upgrade the kind of facilities that our preschool children need," Gross said. "We wanted our children to have a more modern facility."

The Washington School, on Delaware Road, was built in 1905.

In August, eight classrooms will move from Green Acres to 777 Maryvale Drive in Cheektowaga, which Heritage Centers bought from the Maryvale School District in 2010.

By day, Maryvale will be the organization's primary site for school-age youngsters.

At night, it will host increased recreation activities for adults. Those activities outgrew the Washington School, Gross said.

The proximity of Green Acres to the Youngmann Memorial Highway -- I-290 -- also is important to Heritage Centers. "It will be a little easier to get the kids from where they live now to Green Acres," Gross said.

Children are referred to Heritage Centers programs by their home school districts; Buffalo is the largest feeder program, followed by Ken-Ton.