Time can be a bastard.

Wickford Elementary School closed 17 years ago and is still on the town books – empty– although now, finally (at last!) we seem to be inching towards a plan to convert the structure into condos. But it has taken 17 years of hand-wringing, debate, and failed partnerships – because there was no plan at the time of closure.

Do you know what else there is no plan for?

You guessed it: What to do with the Wickford Middle School building if the NK School Committee winds up closing it and giving it back to the town once a new consolidated middle school is up and running.

Shall Wickford Middle remain an empty town-owned shell for 17 years? Shall – to the wailing of preservationists – the old structure be knocked down and some new monstrosities crowded onto the pristine lush campus across the street from St. Bernard’s?

We don’t know. Nobody knows.

Have you noticed? The entire combined middle school project floats in a veritable sea of unknowns. And the waters are shark-infested.

By the way, you will hear again AND AGAIN that Wickford Middle School is too far gone for updating and rehab. The story goes that we “know” therefore that it will be cheaper to build anew than to renovate.