FLS: What should we do with Maury School?

The FLS opinion page wonders aloud what should happen to Maury School, a building that has been empty for almost as long as I have been alive.

I was part of the 2002 process to try to put a Catholic school on the property. That, along with eight other proposals, were never moved on by Fredericksburg City Council, and Maury continued to languish, empty and unresolved.

My proposal? Catholic high school by day, community arts center by night. Not only does this provide the maximum use of the Maury School property, the combined community resolve to raise funds would be there from the get-go.

During the day, 500 high school students would be attending a first rate school. Parents would drop off their children (or students would walk to school), teachers and administration would park in the small lot reserved for Maury, and the school would certainly maximize it’s use as classes took up the majority of the day.

During the evening, the arts community would be able to have full use of the school’s auditorium, the community would be able to use the gym, the classrooms would be opened for meeting space, and who knows — if the arts center wanted to relocate into Maury, what’s the harm in having some awesome art classes at the Catholic high school?

The good news is that St. Michael’s High School is ready to move in with the support of the Catholic business community, a solid business plan, and a wad of cash to invest. The even better news is that the arts community has been primed for a quality space for decades.

What’s best is that between the two groups, there’s plenty – plenty – of community support between the two. The alternative will be to either go it alone, or turn the building into condos, and the Catholic community in Fredericksburg and beyond would be very disappointed to see that happen.

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