Letter to the Editor: Don’t raze the old elementary school

Dear Editor:
This is an open letter to the Meeker community.
I’ve always said that one of the reasons Meeker is such a great place to live is because most of the people who live here are here by choice. You don’t often hear people talking about being stuck here or planning their departures after a certain event or point in time.
I contend that a big reason we like it here is because of the visual appeal — the scenery, the architecture, the river, the vegetation — in a word: charm. There is also a strong “flavor” of community here in Meeker.
The old Meeker Elementary School has charm and it is historically significant. Sure it might be easier to tear it down and make something new there, but it wouldn’t be prudent. In this age of recycling and reusing, the thought of expending so much energy to take down a building only to put another one up is wasteful.
My own experiences with old buildings are varied. I am the owner of The Jensen House, which was part of the officer’s headquarters after the Meeker Massacre. It was built in 1880.
About five years ago, I began refurbishing the house to make it a little more modern and convenient, but I am always keeping in mind the history and charm. The project has been fraught with challenges and it cost a lot of money (I’m not eligible for grants, being an individual. If you’re a non-profit or government entity, there are lots of funds available). At any rate, I am happy to have taken on this project, and I think it adds to the charm of downtown Meeker.
Other examples of historic preservation in our downtown include: the library (a quasi-governmental building); Mountain Valley Bank (lots of history there!); the Hugus Building; and the private homes owned by Jan Oldland, Brian Conrado, Joe Fennessey and Mike and Mary Washburn.
I imagine that if you asked any of the people involved in the restoration and or maintenance of these buildings/homes, they would express frustration followed by the satisfaction of knowing they’ve done the right thing.
Please let the members of the Meeker Town Board and the Rio Blanco County Commission know your thoughts and feelings about the fate of the old Meeker Elementary School.
New isn’t always better (case in point: the new Meeker Elementary School). Doing the right thing is often the more difficult task.
Margaret “Sparky” Pappas
Meeker