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Centennial Puts Hart Elementary on the Market

The building that nobody wants has been placed on the open market by the Centennial School District.

After months of meetings and exploring options, officials at the Centennial School District could not find any partners that could purchase the former Hart Elementary property and preserve it as open space.

Instead, the 15-acre parcel has been posted for public sale, along with an 11-acre field on Newtown Road. Prospective buyers have until 10 a.m. on Feb. 3 to send a sealed bid to the school district's business administrator, Chris Berdnik, according to the public notice posted on Jan. 2.

"We worked long and hard to find a solution that would keep Hart Elementary and open space in the community," said school director Jane Schrader Lynch at a recent school board meeting. Lynch chaired the ad hoc District Land and Property Use Committee between March and November of 2013. The committee, which included members of the district administration team and volunteers from the community, contacted several organizations that might be interested in using the building and surrounding grounds.

They received some feedback from groups including the Bucks County Conservancy and the Warminster Baseball Association, but no deals could be reached.

Similar to the sales of Leary, Stackpole and Longstreth elementary schools in 2012, whomever purchases the Hart Elementary property will be responsible for the demolition of the school. County Builders bought the three other schools for a combined total of approximately $1.3 million. Leary and Stackpole have been torn down, with Longstreth currently on the way, but the Leary and Stackpole sites have not been cleared of rubble and have not seen any activity in months.

Warminster Township had operated its Parks and Recreation Department out of Hart Elementary between 1989 and 2012 under a conditional lease from the school district. When rent-paying organizations moved out of the building in Spring 2012, it created a large hole in the Parks and Rec budget that the township just could not overcome. The board of supervisors approved the move of the WREC Center to its new location at the Warminster Community Park and gave Hart back to Centennial.

"The fact is that it is a landlocked piece of property surrounded by a residential neighborhood, said Lynch. "The interest just wasn't there, and it's not for a lack of looking."

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