Central Cambria Middle School dominates a corner in a gracious, historic neighborhood. But with the decision to close the almost-80-year-old brick schoolhouse in mid-2007, Ebensburg will have either another empty building or a prime real estate development.

“We have had some informal private inquiries about the building,” said Superintendent Susan Makosy. “We’ll see if it is viable as a commercial investment to market, or whether there’s such a liability there that we should demolish it.

“We’ll have to wait for the feasibility study, which will assess things like asbestos, to decide,” she said.

The Central Cambria school board decided in July that the middle school, at North Center Street and Highland Avenue, will close. Depending on grade, those pupils will either go to the elementary or to the high school.

The decision leaves borough officials hoping that a developer will be interested in the building, possibly for professional offices as is happening now with an empty school downtown.

“We’re not too worried,” said borough Manager Dan Penatzer. “There do seem to be businesses out there that are converting old school buildings.”

“You have to find just the right developer,” said Christine Strugala, the borough’s community development director.

And the Ebensburg Public Library will have to make some changes.

“We agreed that the school district would plow the snow for the library,” said former borough Councilman Randy Datsko.

Later, the school system’s grants for extended Internet service also benefited the library. “Now we’re looking at what that will mean, what we’ll have to do,” Datsko said.

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