Future of grade school under review

MEEKER — Meeker’s Board of Trustees has designated the second meeting of every month as a “workshop” time for discussion concerning major town projects. The workshops are open to the public. For February 17, the board opted to discuss the future of the elementary school building, which is owned by the town and will become the town’s responsibility once the new elementary school building is complete.
The town called in Richard Sales, who works with the University of Colorado and the Department of Local Affairs, “providing technical assistance for small rural communities in planning.” Sales is familiar with the community. He directed the group of student interns who designed and built the shelter at City Park.
Sales said the first step in the process of determining the future potential of the 70-year-old building will be a structural assessment by an engineer. Older buildings, Sales said, have obvious drawbacks and limitations, including structural integrity, energy issues, hazaradous materials, and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. But Sales was quick to remind board and staff that the building’s historic and cultural value to the community make it valuable in spite of potential problems.
“It’s a beautiful building with quite a bit of character,” Sales said. “It really is a key part of your downtown.This ought to be a central issue for you guys.”
Mayor Mandi Etheridge said that’s why the town is initiating the process now, and is seeking public input on the future of the school building. “Where do we need to direct our efforts as a board and staff?” Etheridge asked.
“There are a lot of different types of uses we can look at,” Sales said. Some of the suggestions that have already come to the staff and board include the use of the property as a site for a new justice center for the county, an annex for CNCC, a home for the Chamber of Commerce and a new business “incubator” to promote the development of small business in the community.
Funding for saving the existing building could come from a number of grant sources, according to Sales, including DOLA’s downtown revitalization program, the state historic fund, the office of smart growth, the governor’s energy office, or local contributions. Sales said a lot depends on how important the community believes the building itself is to the character and history of the town and, particularly, the downtown area. Determining that value may come to a vote. “That might be the best way to mine community opinion,” Sales said.
The thoughts, opinions, ideas and input of the community on the future of the building itself and the site, is sincerely desired—and needed—Mayor Etheridge said.
Margie Joy of Pioneers Hospital attened a CML (Colo. Municipal League) infrastructure funding meeting on behalf of the Town and the Community Planning Task Force working to facilitate cooperation between various entities to find funding for necessary infrastructure needs.
Joy presented a report on a financing public improvements workshop given by CML
The board approved a special events liquor permit for the Meeker Lions Club during the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation annual dinner April 4.