Fate of the Cotuit Elementary School

Sketch of Cotuit Elementary School
A sketch of the proposed Cotuit Elementary School designed by architect William B. Colleary published in The Barnstable Patriot on February 24, 1955.

The Cotuit Elementary school was built in 1955 and educated students from Cotuit shortly thereafter until 2008, when the Town of Barnstable decided to close the school as part of a larger consolidation effort. For the next nine years, the building and surrounding property were leased to the Waldorf School of Cape Cod until January 2019, when the Town decided to not renew the lease. The building has since sat unused.

As detailed on our Cotuit Elementary School page, many discussions at the Town and District levels have occurred regarding the fate of the building and property. The property includes wooded trails, tennis courts, a baseball diamond, and field that have long been important recreational resources for Cotuit residents. Additionally, the property lies in close proximity to one of Cotuit’s well heads and any future development could be detrimental to the Village’s water source.

Two articles regarding the school building and property were put forth before Cotuit residents at the 2021 annual meeting. The first (Article 16) was to enable the Fire District to accept the transfer of the school building and surrounding 8.5 acres (of the total 13.5 associated with the property) from the Town and to allocate $45,000 for the Fire District to maintain it for one year. The second article (Article 17) called for the transfer of $207,500 to “re-open and fund” a space needs study to consider three potential uses for the former school building and property and their associated costs. (The original 2019 study considered potential solutions to fix issues with the existing Cotuit Fire Station including building an ancillary structure in the lot adjacent to the existing Station and building an addition onto the existing Station.)

The re-opened study will assess the cost of:

— Demolishing the school building and keeping the space as “green space”.

— Repurposing the school building and property to house the Cotuit Fire Station.

— Repurposing the school building and property to serve as a community center and/ or space for community offices.

The Town of Barnstable previously obtained a quote to demolish the building. Additionally, the Town of Barnstable’s Asset Management Advisory Committee funded a Comprehensive Facilities Assessment that, while focused on restoring the building as a school, concluded that the cost of repurposing the building exceeds $4M (per February 27, 2019 meeting minutes).

On May 26, 2021, residents of Cotuit voted in support of Articles 16 and 17. The District will take possession of the building and the adjacent 8.5 acres and allocate $207,500 to re-open and fund the space needs study. Upon completion of the study, there will be a special district vote where the residents of Cotuit will decide between the three options detailed in the study (listed above).