BURLINGTON (AP) -- The Burlington City Council authorized the University of Vermont to lease the historic Elihu B. Taft School not far from its campus and use it for arts education.

Two alternative school programs would be displaced from the building that Burlington school officials believe would cost $2.5 million to $3 million over the next decade for deferred repairs and improvements.

"We feel that we have a property right now that, like I said, is inflexible as well as being underused, truly, by the community," School Board Chairman Alan Matson said at a Monday meeting of the city council.

The property was bequeathed to the city by Elihu Taft to be used as a school or as a home for elderly, poor men, but officials have been hoping to divest themselves of the building due to high repair costs.

The lease approved by a vote of 9-3 would allow UVM to use the property for an upfront payment of $1.6 million for the first 80 years and an automatic renewal of an additional 80 years at $1 per year.

In 2012 the property was valued at $1.1 million, Matson said.

While the lease to UVM was approved, some council members were concerned that it did not honor Taft’s will or would be the loss of a school building that might be needed in the future.


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