After prodding from the Cortez City Council, the Cortez Re-1 School District indicated that it will advertise for bids on the asbestos remediation and demolition of the old Montezuma-Cortez High School building to determine the cost of the major project.
It’s a crucial step that school officials have not yet done, despite the Dec. 4 deadline for demolition set in a memorandum of understanding signed by the two bodies last year.
“The staff’s charge was to help facilitate and fine ways and means to accomplish demolition of the old high school. The only way to do this would be by reviewing demolition bids and abatement methods, and becoming involved with CDPHE in the permitting process,” wrote city manager Shane Hale in a Sept. 22 memo to City Council. “Because the process to go out to bid for demolition and propose alternatives to the state never happened, there is no action that staff can take at this point to give the School District other options.”
School Board officials and Re-1 superintendent Alex Carter joined city council at their Sept. 22 workshop, and explained that they didn’t put the project out to bid because unofficial estimates indicated it would be way beyond the $145,000 earmarked for the project.
“We haven’t gotten any of the competitive bids, partly because when we got the estimates from GRE (Grande River Environmental) and the health and environment guys, the estimates came in at $900,000 to $1.5 million. We were already not even close to that amount. We also ran it by our contractor (Nunn Construction) and they concurred that’s what they would do for that kind of work,” explained Re-1 School Board treasurer Pete Montano, stressing that the district does not want to leave the neighborhood with another vacant building.
The district plans to call a special meeting next week to begin advertising for bids, a process that could talk around four weeks, and also explore the financial feasibility of rehabbing the 50-year-old structure.
Although the city could technically take the district to court over the MOU, Hale says the city has “zero appetite” for that.
“Theoretically, we could enforce it in court like a regular contract but I think we’d get to the point with the district not having the money. The reason we’re in the conversation is because of that MOU. We just want to do anything we can to help and facilitate a discussion on steps forward,” said Hale.