Brain Trust

  • Please use the form linked below to share your ideas and suggestions for the repurposing of KCSD Elementary School buildings. We appreciate your time, energy, and participation! 

    Although you are welcome to submit your ideas anonymously, please note that libelous and inflammatory comments will not be published.

    Michael Lang recently visited Zena to see if it was "available". He is interested in creating a music college- he even wants to expand the building. I can't think of better match than Woodstock(Zena)and Michael Lang.

    Zena has great fields that should be offered as community garden space while the district is "deciding" the building's future. If you want to see how they work, visit the gardens next to the Rhinebeck Library and Pool- they are wonderful-an asset to the community. Also, there's room for softball and soccer fields as well. As a Zena resident, I will be willing to help with these efforts next summer.

    Zena- See if the Ashokan would be interested as a off campus location.The maple syrup still and nature trail are a terrible resource to lose.

    The Zena school could possibly be used as a film production facility. Already in a business zoned area. Ample power, parking and outdoor space. Several large, unobstructed (no columns) indoor spaces for use as sound stages for filming (Gym, cafetorium). Large kitchen facilities. The stream area could be used as a location for filming outdoor scenes. Reasonable access via 28/Zena Rd. Ulster County has seen a large influx of filming in the last few years. The state has programs for funding/tax incentives. The Woodstock Film Festival brings built in visibility to the area in the film industry. A high value, high paying, low impact industry. Made to order....

    Sophie Finn should be a Childbirth Center because of its proximity to Benedictine Hospital. A place for midwives, doulas, childbirth education, pre/postnatal exercise classes, lactation classes, daycare, birth control education, Bradley Method, and anything else along these lines. And I am sure once a committee is formed so much more will come into what this can be which I would love to be part of.

    Repurposing a large building in an area like Zena into a business engine is somewhat counterintuitive as there truly is not much there aside from residences, the firehouse, and Maverick. Looking at the big picture would work better. Consolidating large Town resources, housing them in one location, and providing space on a more proprietary-friendly size throughout Town makes more sense. A perfect example is municipal services such as highway/town offices/ fire/ police department purposes. This enables the Town or Districts to generate revenue from the sale of the properties consolidated in the one big space, share overhead expenditure, increase the number of taxable properties in the Town, and have more space among many other advantages. The FD for instance has 5 Stations- consolidate the Zena and Woodstock Town firehouse, the Wittenberg and Lake Hill firehouse, put ambulances at both, and sell the four smaller buildings.

    I think Sophie Finn should be used as a charter school. There are no charter schools around here. Or even a montessori school! I like the idea of alternative schools. It should not be public school or nothing. Private schools are too much.

    If the schools are closing due to low attendance, I believe we should use them to help return attendance. One of our hospitals closed and the number of empty homes for sale is alarming. Our taxes will increase to compensate for these loses, driving more people out. I believe these empty buildings should be offered to businesses to encourage their move to our community, but not permanently… I think a short term of agreement for a low or no cost location to “try” our area for employment. If they can utilize a classroom, hall or entire wing for a temporary business location with little or no commitment and cost, they may choose our community instead of somewhere else. Maybe eventually move in permanently and grow. The buildings could easily house many types of businesses and have utilities capable of support, including cafeterias. The cost savings would not only attract existing, out of town business, it could inspire the start up of new local businesses. My main concern is, if the buildings are permanently altered, sold, or demolished and the population returns to our community, we would be without schools. The cost of purchasing it back or building new would be dramatic. Using them for day care, young or old would be great, but I have to wonder if the population and tax trends could support it. If the school age population is moving out of town, the other generations will likely follow. Selling them for private schooling confuses me, because if the attendance and money existed in our community the schools wouldn’t have closed in the first place. I also agree with an earlier post to move any storage to these locations and stop paying rent. Any government offices that are paying rent should be moved here as well. All of these combined with the temporary businesses would cut our government spending and potentially increase income and at the same time conserve the original purpose of the buildings.

    Zena Elementary School could become a center for gifted students. Many KALP programs could be conducted at Zena School premises.
    The Board of Education has held input sessions for the members of the neighborhoods surrounding the closing schools to discuss possible repurposing options. This is a list of the ideas generated at those meetings:
    Meagher Re-Purposing Input: 

    • The PTA at Meagher has expressed a wish that the building be used for some purpose that would return it to the tax rolls or PILOT @ or above the current property tax rate.
    • One of the teachers suggested it be maintained as training space for teachers, technology training sessions and training for maintenance staff.
    • The BRC could be relocated.
    • Cornell Cooperative Extension (4-H, Families & Science, and night and weekend programming) is looking for a new space. NOTE: This agency has recently moved into the old Blockbuster facility in Kingston Plaza.
    • One of the old Poughkeepsie School District buildings was converted into a Family Partnership (a consortium of several social agency offices).
    • Dr. Seversky’s option of making Meagher the central offices and a preschool hub was mentioned.
    • In a subsequent meeting, the group suggested that the BoE approach the City of Kingston about an exchange of school buildings for city properties. Some mentioned the partnership that resulted in the library currently located at what was once the Sojourner Truth School.

    Zena Re-Purposing Input: 
    • One suggestion for Zena School was to locate town services (Town of Woodstock) at Zena. - perhaps a consortium of community services – including a food pantry. It was noted that Zena School is the largest facility in the Town of Woodstock.
    • The idea that met with the most enthusiasm at Zena was the suggestion that it might become an environmental education/conference center.

    Anna Devine Re-Purposing Input: 
    • People seemed most enthusiastic about the idea of repurposing the Anna Devine School as a community center or satellite for after school programs for the Anna Devine school age population and as a gathering place for the town since this is a rural population and there is no other true meeting place.
    • Senior housing or day-care facility
    • Environmental Education Center.
    • Contact officials to suggest relocating New York or New Jersey services displaced by Hurricane Sandy.
    • Divide the facility for use as a consortium of community agencies each with its own entrance.
    • Create a food pantry.
    • Contact Scenic Hudson and other agencies to get their support/suggestions.
    • Commercial fitness gym or karate studios.
    • Use as a spiritual center/retreat center.
    • Contact SUNY New Paltz and SUNY UCCC to repurpose AD as a transit center or as student housing.
    • Contact Iron Mountain to offer the Anna Devine School’s use as a data storage center.
    • Offer space for storage to the community (rent space).
    • Explore partnerships with foundations.
    • Try to attract growth industries.
    • Perhaps contact United Health Care.
    • Create a business incubator for commercial businesses.
    • Orchards, farms, wineries and distilleries were all mentioned.
    • Create a community kitchen facility where different business start-ups could book time for kitchen use and rent storage space for supplies.

    another good idea would be using one or so for after school activities, programs such as for working parents at a small fee after school babysitting, incorporate jrs. and srs. from the high school to volunteer which would look good on their transcripts for college and with adult supervision, a safe zone for a recreation center for building social skills , to hold dances, let upper classmen/girls hold garage sales; arts/crafts to earn towards class events & trips, community fundraisers, food drives, soup kitchens etc..

    Anna Device would be an excellent location for an Ulster County Techinal High School with project based learning. It is located very near the center of the county.

    I think Zena could be offered to any group that would develop and get acceptance as a charther school.

    Contact charter or private school organizations and offer the buildings up to them. Let's still use the school buildings as schools but let someone else use them!

    Sophie Finn could be developed by the Health Alliance as a Medical Center for doctors offices within walking distance to the proposed "new" Kingston Hospital. The "old" Kingston Hospital could then be developed by SUNY Ulster for the nursing program, student housing, classrooms, and meeting rooms.

    I believe that the school district students would obtain a better education and the taxpayere would pay less if the closed schools were sold to an privately owned education system. The elegible students could transfer to the new school and retain admission if they adheard to its rules and regulations. One school would teach the potiential dropouts a trade or some other type of productive work such as day care and maintenance. They could clean the schools, maintain the grounds or do volunteer work that would better prepare them when they graduate. Another school could be for those students who are bored with the the level of teaching required to reach the slower students. They will have more challanging assignments which would better prepare them for edcucation beyond high school. They can be taught teamwork and explore opportunities which will be available after graduation. This could include such things as working in the food kitchen, remodeling housing for the less fortunate, helping the handicapped, student teaching or assisting teachers, montoring hallways and study halls. These teachers would not be entitled to tenure and be paid according to their contribution. In this way we would have helped students receive the education that they will need for their next lifes chapter. We will have used our resources for the business of teaching students. Do not continue use of these buildings for taxpayer funded activities. Sell them for the value of the building and its contents, making certain that the building is either reconstructed for its approved use or demolished

    I am in another part of NYS and our district faces similar issues. I applaud your approach to get people engaged in shaping the future rather than lamenting the past. Bravo!

    Raze the buildings (Tillson, Anna Devine, Zena) and turn the property over to the local municipality for public parks.

    Schools have been successfully repurposed into private condos in Westchester where at least three examples of this kind of conversion exists.

    I love the idea of a general community arts center (visual arts, music, dance, theater) with a gallery space for local artists. Perhaps a low cost studio space for artists? There can be a crafts fair every few months to help pay for costs.

    Senior housing would be a good idea.

    Multi-generational craft exchange art center.
    There are many seniors and who do crafts and arts using skills which will disappear unless younger generations learn about them. These skills can be taught and made into an economic venture to raise funds for the district. Chief among the arts would be all having to do with textiles. There may be funding via grants to use as seed money.

    It is great to see that the Kingston Schools has reached out to the community for ideas. The details need to be explained, what are the carrying costs for each school, the improvements needed now and the future how will the taxpayers be repaid for their investment? If selling to a private company is there a need to receive "fair market" value for the buildings? Let's put some of the peramiters on the table so we can come up with ideas that meet the needs of all the stakeholders.

    Sell them to the highest bidder as soon as possible. Once empty they are liabilities not assets. IE- Tillson, Old Jail,etc, get them back on the tax rolls ASAP and let privat enterprise do there thing.

    How about apartments or assisted living, for hadicapped and/or elderly citizens? There is a great need in this area for both.

    Using one of the schools as a warehouse should be givin alot of thought,why pay rent when the district has empty buildings.Relocating crown to an empty building is also a good idea,selling crown st,not paying rent for a warehouse and empty buildings not needing much upkeep should help keep our taxes and expenses down

    Just don't rush to sell them. The real estate market can't get any worse. Sitting on them for a year or two might be the most profitable way to go. Not forever, just long enough to see if a property value rebound is in the near future. Finding a use for them in the mean time would be great.

    It seems the free market system has served our district well. List the buildings with MLS - the school on West Chestnut school was used by UCCC as the first college site and now it is condominiums. Lindsley Ave home to Community Action. East Kingston became commercial, Brigham became housing - Queens Galley needs a home.

    Would love to see an Aguircultural school with farming, large and small livestock education, apple farming, corn, grapes ect. and build in some green education, geothermal education. Tractor repair ect.. The subjects are endless.

    I would say that the buildings would make excellent daycare and preschool centers or even a senior daycare center or small private retirement home. Maybe even think about senior housing...There are so many possiblities. You could even rent them out as small business offices.

    There is a great need for an Early Learning Center. GW will be the only public school in Ulster County with Pre-K as of next year. When parents make the leap to private day care or the PreK at the parochial schools, many remain in the parochial area as their children make friends and a base, even though they may not have had a religious leaning previously. The parochial schools are more non-denominational than previously, teach evolution and social diversity. The students then go on to parochial high schools and often, Marist, Saint Rose or the Mount. As a public school system, we need to re-claim these students and their discerning, economically discerning parents. it's an educational decision that can revitalize the whole community. And please bring back the 3 year old to GW. Grant money is available from the State, please look at reapplying.

    I think Meagher would make a great community center. A place that is overseen by the district as an afterschool "affordable" center for children who otherwise cant afford to do the afterschool activities that are currently offered (ie. The YMCA or MAC) This program can be a great place for children to go to learn new skills like the lego club that Meagher school once had or reading groups and writing groups for children who are advanced or may need a little extra help. People from the community can volunteer their time to either monitor children or tutor those in need or a small group of staff could be hired ( and I would be one more than willing to submit a resume for a position) to work in the rooms with the children. There could be extra curricular activities such as the gym and that equipment and the park that is sitting their fighting to be saved. I really would like a chance to address this more and like I said I would be more than willing to become a part of this in some way. I have a bachelor degree in Sociology and human services and an abundant amount of experience working with children of all aspects. Thanks

    Zena School should become a combination - environmental education & staff conference center.

    ZENA - Repurposed as an Environmental Education/Conference Center
    (Some thoughts related to the repurposing of the Zena Elementary School)

    After witnessing the bounty of ideas and proposals advanced when the Meagher School was targeted for closing, I brainstormed one morning and came up with some suggestions for new uses for the building.

    The location and condition of the structure make it a perfect spot for day-long professional meetings for professional growth in our academic community. Curriculum writing, demonstrations of best practices or model classes shown and shared, and textbook examination for selection and adoption are but a few areas that might be addressed.

    There is a kitchen which would make serving meals at day-long conferences a distinct possibility. There are beautiful. wooded grounds that would furnish an idyllic setting for such a conference center where lessons of all types might be offered.

    Environmental Science/Biology:

    This campus lends itself to a variety of scientific investigations. The creek on the property is teeming with life; the woods feature a host of trees and birds. Seasonal changes will give rise to myriad possibilities. Students could be brought to this venue for collaborative scientific lessons or projects . Groupings of students could be done by grade, or cross grade by topic. By making this an educational/conference center, all of the district’s students, would be served.. So many more students will be influenced and will benefit These topics might also be explored in collaboration with other nearby districts.

    Some additional ideas: 
    Rock, leaf, tree and bird identification.

    Bee hives

    Gardens for fruit, vegetables, and flowers can be created and cultivated

    Maple sugaring

    The Water Shed (Sawkill, Lower Esopus). Dams, resevoirs, creeks, water sheds – their promise and problems could all be studied.

    Weather, rainfall, temperature, drought and pollution.

    Ice Circles

    Professional Development:

    In terms of model lessons, ones in a single discipline could be filmed in this “lab” like setting. Once these are recorded, they would provide a library of models as examples for new teachers.

    If the lessons are filmed in an actual class prior to staff development days, they could furnish the focus for sessions of peers to view or celebrate success of a peer/colleague whose class they might not have had the opportunity of visiting due to scheduling and time conflicts.

    Departments might plan entire professional growth days on which guest speakers, book dealers, and technology salesmen present and promote their wares.

    Administrators from surrounding districts might also like to reserve this venue for full building meetings and planning.

    Exhibits and Displays or Museum of Student Work:

    The building could also be used as the location of exhibits and displays of projects completed or linked to a class/classes. Like a museum, it would showcase a particular discipline for a specific amount of time. Departments could volunteer or be assigned a definite month to present their work. This could include all levels and perhaps concentrate on a singe theme. I believe this would be especially effective in fusing the various K-4, 5-8 groups/schools. These projects might also be filmed and shown on local television channel 20.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
    There are so many possibilities… What follows are just some suggestions in various subject areas: Young Authors Day:

    This used to be hosted at the Kingston High School Field House (Kate Walton Field House). Teachers would volunteer and shared favorite areas with students from grade levels 5-12. The focus was poetry. I taught the haiku while others featured their particular strengths.

    A guest speaker, usually a local writer, spoke to the group. A book was created as a follow up. Each person contributed his/her chosen piece of work. (Donna Elberg or Mary Leonard would be good contact people.)

    A Local Version of Bard College’s Thinking and Writing Institute might be established here permanently (perhaps an extension of the former?) Zena would be an excellent site or workshops that deal with prose/essay writing.

    A Playwright Day:

    During this time, theater games might be conducted with props, costumes, etc. Students – even those from different schools, could collaborate on writing a play which could then be filmed. (Short, tight, focused like a commercial). Perhaps the students could create public service presentations. Such PSA’s could be featured on Channel 20 – KHS TV. They might be used as PR for the district. Contests involving public service announcements have earned recognition for KCSD in the past and have gained new equipment for the studio. (Michael Habernig won – I think under the tutelage of Andy Sheber and John Moriarty).


    Local newspaper and radio men and women could present workshops dealing with news coverage. Accuracy and balance could be “highlighted” in terms of editorials or columns.

    Photo Journalism;

    Particular issues of local concern (painting goats on flower boxes, the progress of the Clearwater on lower Broadway, etc) Making calendars that highlight the city/area would be an excellent idea Stone houses or local architecture would be wonderful. The statues in the Academy Green would also be a strong image. Local businesses and merchants might make interesting photo subjects as well.


    Record music from local performances. (The school district has many, many musical groups) Chamber music, especially string, would make an excellent background for visitors to exhibits. Art might be used to accompany the Jazz ensembles from the secondary schools. The performances could be audial, visual or both. Outstanding jobs done by students at NYSSMA could be showcased. Original works or compositions by students would be a fine subject.


    A Native American day/week might be held with guest lectures and performances. Native crafts might be shown Collaboration with the Art department would be excellent.

    A focus on the Esopus tribe might be tied very nicely into the New York State Social Studies curriculum.

    Foods that were raised by Native Americans could be raised at the site and our Food Service might show how they were prepared. A study of Health could incorporate nutrition and balance. Perhaps a festival could occur around Thanksgiving and recreate the history and feast with attention devoted to truth and relating it to legend and lore. Music, dance and clothing might also be incorporated.

    It might resemble the Plymouth Plantation Village and adjoining Native American Village in Massachusetts.

    Local history might have a day dealing with the Hudson River. The influence of the Dutch might be woven in. The river itself could be studied: its formation, its present state, its pollution and the efforts to clean it up are strong areas for investigation.

    These are just a few ideas for utilizing this facility in a way that would benefit our entire district and possibly nearby districts as well. It’s a start.

    When I first moved to Kingston in 1990, I remember being so impressed with the Meagher School building. I had previously worked in Delray Beach Elementary School in Florida, and Meagher had much of the structural appeal I loved about the Delray Beach school.
    Delray Beach Elementary closed in the mid 1980's and was converted into a beautiful community arts center thanks to the support of local community members. It is absolutely breathtaking and a historic landmark in the area frequently visited by locals and tourists alike. I would love to see Meagher follow in a similar direction. I know it's quite a leap to be considered, but I felt it is worthwhile bringing to the forefront of possibilities. You will find the link to the current "Old School Square", formerly Delray Beach Elementary School.

    Why not move Crown St. offices to Meagher? the parking is better, it is closer to khs for meetings etc. Just a thought. Meagher is a nicer looking building than that atrocity on Crown St. 

    It is such a shame that the Meagher school had to be closed in the first place but why not see if it can be used as a nighttime "daycare" center for adults that have Alzheimers/Dementia.
    One of the things people with Alzheimers/Dementia suffer from is the reversal of their day....they usually sleep during the day and are awake at night and their caregivers who usually are family members need relief at night so they can drop the adult off at a night "day care" center. I recently discovered that they have one such center in the Bronx. These "day care" centers keep the adults busy all night with activities so when they are picked up in the morning they go home and sleep. I think it would be worthwhile to look into and you could contact the local Alzheimers Association, I believe they are in Poughkeepsie. Otherwise, I am sure the local hospitals could put you in touch with similar agencies.
    Another agency that could be approached would be the Girl Scouts, who knows, this could solve alot of their logistical problems and it could become their central office in Ulster County. It certainly would be big enough to do their trainings and retreats and seminars and hold actual troop meetings instead of trying to get churches and community centers to let them use their facilities for meetings. It comes complete with a working kitchen that they can use for fundraisers and events.
    I just hate to see such a warm, inviting, school building go to waste and eventually torn down.
    Thank you for reading this.

    Zena - Sell to Woodstock day school Meagher Elementary School - sell to private school or private developer - would be wonderful to get it back on the tax rolls Anna Devine Elementary School - Sell to Woodcrest

    The Sophie Finn school or the Meghar school would be wonderful sites for a quality early childhood - child care center. There is a big need for quality not for profit child care in Kingston and especially if there will be a SUNY community college in this area. SUNY provides grants for child care centers who serve college communities. I'd love to see it linked to the highschool as well so that Highschool students could participate in child development courses and volunteer in the child care center. Perhaps a collaborative effort with BOCES, Head Start, Univeral Pre-K, KCSD and SUNY could make this a reality.

    Stop paying rent on the warehouse and use Zena for storage and print shop!!