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No Buyers For West End School

LONG BRANCH: No one bid on the chance to buy the closing West End School property, marking another failed attempt to find an owner for the old elementary school.

The Long Branch School District received zero bids at its July 15 deadline, according to the district.

It’s not the first time the sale of the school did not go as planned, nor is this the only district property up for sale with zero bidders.

For example, no one bid on the chance to own two former Long Branch schools, marking more than two attempts to find bidders to purchase the Church Street School and Star of the Sea Learning Annex. That bid deadline was May 14. It’s the second unsuccessful attempt to solicit bids for the sale of the schools this year. An earlier attempt for the two schools in January also had zero bids, while approximately two years ago the district was also unsuccessful in finding bidders for the Church Street School.

The sale of the West End School fell apart earlier this year when Menachem Learning Institute, also known as Chabad of the Shore, and the district was told Chabad’s lending institution disagreed with the property assessment. Chabad of the Shore's appraisal of the property was lower than the $3.3 million it had agreed to purchase the school for in January, officials said.

The $3.3 million deal would have allowed the district to budget for a major facility project, the restoration of the original Long Branch High School on Westwood Avenue, and to offset taxes.

"They were not approved for a mortgage, and by law, a public organization cannot negotiate with a bidder," Long Branch School District Superintendent Michael Salvatore told Word on the Shore at the time.

After the deal fell through, the district went out to bid again after passing a resolution at its April 30 meeting.

The West End School is closing and the George L. Catrambone School will become the newest primary school for in Long Branch. As one of its oldest schools, the West End School will close and its students will move on to grades elsewhere in the district as it reshuffles its assignments while one school closes and another opens this fall. Catrambone is one of the largest schools in the area and is equipped with new technology for the Abbott district.

The decision was made last year to take one of the district’s schools “offline,” Superintendent Michael Salvatore said previously. In addition to its aging utilities, it became difficult to update the facilities with current education and building tools. The school, at 132 West End Ave., has no ramps and has three floors and no elevator, for example.

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