BAYONNE, NJ - Less than a week after school officials announced the closing of Marist High School, the Bayonne City Council voted to allow the city to enter into negotiations for a possible purchase of the property.

School officials announced last week that the school would close its doors in June.

City Attorney Jay Coffey said the city is looking to possibly purchase three pieces of property owned by the Marist Brothers. The property has an assessed value of about $9 million, although the sale price could be as much as $20 million, Coffey said.

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The city would pay for the property by adopting a bond ordinance, Coffey said.

While Coffey would not confirm or deny that the property would be converted to a public school, he said the property had a number of potential uses that would benefit the city.

With Marist High School teetering on the brink of closure previously this isn’t the first time the idea of somehow utilizing the property to accommodate Bayonne’s growing public school population has been put forward, sources have said. While the city cannot operate a school, they can purchase and lease back the 9.2 acre site to the Bayonne Board of Education, exactly the plan that is said to be in the works.

Mayor Jimmy Davis has himself suggested that the city should take a more active role in helping to modernize the local public schools, throwing out the purchase of property, or use of land at the former Military Ocean Terminal site as possibilities his Administration  would explore.

Coffey further added that while the property would have to be brought up to meet the standards associated with contemporary school use, the Marist High School building is relatively new compared to existing school buildings in Bayonne, many of which are near or above 100 years old. The property also contains one of the largest gyms in Hudson County and could provide a venue for local recreation programs.

Local school officials expect a number of students from Marist to transfer into the public schools next September, exasperating the increase in enrollment issues. There are currently 235 students enrolled in Marist.

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