Oswego Senior Center Executive Director Sandy Pastore is optimistic the center can continue to operate in the former Traughber Junior High School building on Franklin Street at Washington Street near downtown Oswego.
The Oswego School District 308 Board of Education voted 4-2 Feb. 25 to sell the former school building and property to the Aurora-based Resurrection Church of the Fox Valley for $2.85 million, $100,000 over the district's asking price.
According to information presented to the board, the church plans to use the building as community church, cafe, kids' indoor play center, co-working and remote work offices, early childhood center, a wedding venue, classrooms, training spaces, athletic camps and skill development programs. The senior center, which currently leases a portion of the building from the school district, would be allowed to remain in the building under the church's plan.
Pastore said she has met with representatives from the church to discuss the senior center's future in the building and additional meetings are planned.
"We were hopeful for a buyer that would keep us and it looks like we've found it," Pastore said, adding, "We want to continue to be the Oswego Senior Center."
Church officials have not yet responded to calls from the Ledger.
The possibility the senior center might not be allowed to remain in the former school was a matter of concern to school board members prior to their vote to approve the sale last week.
Board Secretary Jared Ploger questioned whether or not representatives of Oswego Township, the village of Oswego, or Kendall County had come forward with an arrangement to keep the senior center operational.
Stu Whitt, an attorney for the school district, said he had conversations with township officials about 18 months ago in an effort to encourage them to either purchase the property, or do so in partnership with another entity.
"That did not come to fruition," Whitt said.
According to Board Vice President Lauri Doyle, district officials met with all Oswego governing bodies in early 2018 to discuss the building.
"There wasn't any particular interest," she said.
Referring to the senior center, Ploger said, "This is a huge asset to the community and, no pun intended, but we're putting a lot of faith in Resurrection to really continue to honor that piece of our community."
Ploger later voted no on the motion to sell the building to the church.
Also at the Feb. 25 meeting, the board unanimously voted in favor of continuing the Senior Center's licensing and facility use agreement on a month-by-month basis at its current rate of $1,542. The center's former agreement ended on Feb. 28, and the decision to continue on a month-by-month plan was made due to the uncertain future of the property as sales negotiations continue.
Constructed as Oswego High School in 1950-51, the building became Oswego Junior High School in 1964 upon completion of the new high school on Route 71. The school was renamed Traughber Junior High School in honor of the late Superintendent T. Lloyd Traughber in the 1970s. Traughber Junior High School moved to a new building in 2008. Since that time, the building has, at various times, housed district offices, the Kendall County Opportunity School, Oswego Family YMCA and the senior center. The senior center is the only current tenant in the building.