The Belchertown State School needs $10 million to remove asbestos from the school buildings, and four legislators from the town are petitioning the state governor for a grant to the school to cover the costs. The economy of the town relies upon the renovation of the school site, the representatives argue. When the school was abandoned in 1994, town officials quickly realized that the cost to demolish the asbestos-tainted buildings were prohibitive. This prevented the renovation of the site which could add economic value to Belchertown. As the buildings age, the potential for them to collapse increases, and town officials fear that asbestos removal from fallen structures will cost much more than if the buildings are still intact. This has put the timing of the project at a premium.
The deterioration of the buildings on the site has also proven a magnet for arsonists and vandals. An incidence of arson at one of the buildings in the last month spurred the representatives to hasten their funding request. The renovation of the site would allow the town to work with the government agency MassDevelopment and a project through the University of Massachusetts which will give students first hand experience in working with a construction site renovation.