East Grand Board of Education is considering selling the old Grand Lake Elementary building to the Town of Grand Lake for $1.
“I think that’s our best scenario from a financial standpoint,” said board treasurer Chip Besse, via speaker phone at a May 6 school district board meeting.
Selling the building now would save the yearly cost of maintaining the building, upward of $40,000, as well as any unforeseen maintenance costs, Besse said.
The deal would also avoid the district being forced to tear the building down if at some point the town were to decide to rezone the property to residential.
It also would be cheaper to sell the building than to pay for an appraisal and auction, the board discussed.
“At this point in time, I know my board is still very soundly behind negotiating and working something out with (the district),” said Grand Lake Mayor Judy Burke. “The feeling as a whole is that there are a number of really positive things that we as a community could do with the building.”
“In the future, I don’t know if we would be interested in relieving the district of those costs,” Burke said, saying the time is now to strike a deal.
Selling the school for $1 to Grand Lake would help placate a relationship that has been tenuous since the district closed Grand Lake’s only school in 2011.
“Not too many have been told about it, at least from our end, but having heard about these negotiations possibly going on, they’re very excited about the fact that this board is willing to try to repair some of the problems of the past,” Burke said. “And I think that in the long run, it will mean more to the district than the dollar you’re going to get for it.”
Burke said that demolishing the building could create a schism between the two entities that would be too large to remedy.
“I think once you tear that building down, I’d hate to see you rely ever on anything being passed from Grand Lake, because then people are mad,” Burke said.
Potential building Uses
Burke said Grand Lake has “about five pages” of potential uses for the new building.
“We’re giving very serious consideration to a community center,” Burke said.
Other ideas include putting in a skateboard park, tennis courts or a community garden. Burke said the building could also host cooking classes or even animal tracking classes.
“Truly it’s open to anyone’s imagination,” said town trustee Tom Weydert. “It’s like a blank sheet of paper, what can we do with this facility, and I think so much of it is literally limitless as to what the possibilities are.”
Weydert said initially, the only constraints the town would encounter would be financial.
Burke said the town is taking into consideration the costs of maintaining the building and hiring a director or event coordinator to manage it. Those costs may be around $60,000 to $70,000 per year.
But Burke believes the cost will be worth it.
“I think that this can be the start of something that would help bring Grand County together,” she said.
Board President Taunia Shipman asked the proposal be scheduled as an action item for its May 20 meeting, with a recommendation to move forward with the sale at that time.
Reporter Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610