Demolition possible for school at heart of community

St Eugene’s College, Roslea

IT’S the question that’s been on everyone’s mind in the Roslea area, aside from Brexit. What’s going to happen to the former St Eugene’s College? 
Situated right at the heart of the border village, St Eugene’s has been lying empty since the school was officially closed on August 31 this year. Following the closure, the local parish took over full control of the large building, and are now managing the hefty expenses for the empty premises. 
For example, the parish owe what could amount of to a “substantial” amount of money to the Department of Education.
“At this moment in time we’re waiting on the Department of Education to come back to us with what is called a grant repayment,” said parish priest Fr John Chester. 
“When a school closes they estimate the amount of money that was spent on the campus over the years and it looks for a claw-back. I have no idea how much the claw-back will be, but it could be substantial.” 
Fr Chester said the parish is also having to pay crippling costs, such as rates on the massive, three-story building, as well as heat, power, water and insurance. As wells for these burdensome bills, the PP added they also faced an uphill battle potentially selling the building. 
“The difficulty is, Roslea demographically, has an ageing population. The young are going to the cities after they do their college courses. The population is going down, businesses, the main street is quite vacated, a lot of business have gone,” said Fr Chester, adding the parish would like to keep the school’s music block and outdoor sports facilities along the road. 
“It adds a certain difficulty when it comes to maybe trying to sell a campus like that.” 
Fr Chester added the building had been “designed as a school and functioned as a school and may not have many other purposes.”
“Whoever purchases it, the possibility is they may have to toss it and then start from scratch,” he said, stating even if it was to be used a nursing home this would be the case.
Fr Chester said the people of Roslea were resilient, however, and some believed that if Brexit possibly worked out well for the village, that may provide potential opportunities for the former school building.
“At the moment that seems like a pipedream,” he conceded. 

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