After a 45-minute discussion this week, school officials have agreed to pursue three avenues regarding the former Montezuma-Cortez High School building.
At a special workshop on Tuesday, Sept. 29, Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 board members authorized Superintendent Alex Carter to seek a design plan to safely demolish the former high school building, a facility study for potential building uses it it’s not demolished, and options to place the structure on the real estate market.
When applying for a grant and bond measure in 2012 to finance a new high school, Re-1 officials promised that the Seventh Street building would be demolished. That plan was shelved after officials learned that asbestos abatement costs ranged from $900,000 to $1.5 million. The district had budgeted $145,000 for demolition, according to Carter.
Unsettled by the revelation, city officials asked school leaders to obtain bids to determine the actual costs of demolition. If estimates hold true, Re-1 officials have indicated the district wouldn’t be able to demolish the structure.
According to Carter, demolition bids should be received in November.
Board member Sherri Wright demanded to know future maintenance and utility costs.
“I want the facts so we can make the best decision,” Wright told board members on Tuesday.
No upkeep estimates were provided Tuesday, but the district’s 2012 BEST grant application reveals that future maintenance costs were projected at $60,000 annually.
Also contained in the grant application, Re-1 officials noted the old high school building had roof-drainage issues, high fire-safety concerns, poor indoor air quality and an inadequate electrical system.
At the time, officials estimated that renovating the building to alleviate health issues would cost up to 80 percent of the replacement value, or $36 million.
Regarding demolition, the issue is asbestos contained in the walls of the 50-year-old, 142,000 square-foot structure.
City officials are concerned about the potential for blight if the structure remains vacant. A pending memorandum of understanding between city and school officials guarantees the structure be demolished by the end of the year.
Tuesday, Carter reiterated that the building is safe, and that a number of parties had expressed an interest in utilizing the building for office space and art studios.
Carter said he misspoke previously, restating that district attorneys had confirmed that the building could be sold with an “as is” asbestos clause in the contract.
Re-1 controls several de-activated properties, notably the Calkins building and Lakeview elementary school.
A new, 152,000-square-foot high school opened this fall. The project totaled nearly $41.4 million, which was funded by a $22.2 million Colorado Department of Education BEST grant and an $18.9 million local 20-year bond measure.