Township, School District Land Swap Plan Advances

An aerial view of the Consolata Mission property, which was purchased by the township in May, 2017.

The land swap between the township and school district is all but a done deal with the Oct. 9 final passage by the Township Council of an ordinance approving it.

The Board of Education approved the deal at its September meeting.

In the deal, the district will get an approximately 13-acre parcel of land with three buildings on the former Consolata Mission property, and the township will get about six acres and the former Middlebush School on Amwell Road. The district has been using the school for its administrative offices.

As a result of the deal, which will see the district’s administrative offices and facilities department move to Consolata, the township will also regain control of the former municipal building across Amwell from the school, which it has been renting to the district.

Board of Education’s plans for the Consolata property.

What remains now is for the property closing papers to be signed, and for the district to refurbish the Consolata buildings, located on Route 27, for their new use.

Under the land swap’s terms, the district has up to two years to do that and move.

The township has no set plans for the former school building, Township Manager Robert Vornlocker said at the meeting.

The building that is closest to Route 27 will be used as a community center, district and school officials have said.

“I think it is something really good,” Mayor Phil Kramer said at the meeting. “I’m very proud of the council’s work on this and the Board of Education’s work on this. This is two agencies working closely together … and getting the job done.”

Councilman Charles Onyejiaka (D-Ward 3) agreed.

“This is a very positive move for Franklin,” he said. “It’s gong to serve a very important need, because right now we don’t have a very close youth center around Ward 3, and the demand for it has been very great.”

“We have kids that can benefit from that environment,” he said. “I think not only my Ward, but the entire Franklin Township, it’s going to be very important for the community.”

About 42 acres of the 65-acre property will be open space, and another 10 acres has been set aside for a possible YMCA.

The township purchased the property in May, 2017 from the Consolata Mission for $14 million. At the time, the deal was hailed as one of the greatest open space purchases in township history.


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