Heath Elementary School closed in 2017 due to dwindling enrollment. The Franklin County hilltown — with its population of around 700 — put out a request for proposals, and received a $250,000 bid from a Boston-based LLC affiliated with marijuana cultivators.
Local officials have been in talks with Derek Ross, CEO of Bristol County Wellness Center, minutes show. The entity, known as BCWC, Inc., has financial backing from Future Farm Technologies, a Canadian firm. The partners are currently building a 24,700-square-foot medical marijuana facility in Attleboro.
The Heath Elementary School has about 25,400 square feet of space. It was built 25 years ago, when the town saw momentary population growth. When the school closed two years ago, it only had 30 students.
Heath’s Finance Committee has noted that the town is now paying $60,000 per year to maintain the empty building, which will soon need a $250,000 roof. BCWC, Inc., is promising around $10,000 in tax revenue, revenue sharing through a host community agreement, and the creation of around 20 jobs.
Still, the issue has been controversial, and many local residents are sad to see the school go, the Greenfield Recorder reports. Heath now pays tuition to send its children to the Hawlemont Regional School District.
“People have high feelings on both sides of this, and we need to respect each other’s opinions,” Selectboard Chairman Brian DeVriese told the newspaper.