National Guard under orders to sell new home of Boys & Girls Club

The state Department of Military and Veteran's Affairs has received orders to sell the former National Guard Armory in Craig, which complicates the county's plan to let an upstart Boys & Girls Club use the building rent-free.

But Jim Dodd, one of the club's organizers, sees the development as positive.

The Moffat County Board of Commissioners appeared disappointed when they heard the news. Commissioner Darryl Steele said it couldn't have come at a worse time, just after the club had applied for a grant to renovate the building's gymnasium from the state Department of Local Affairs.

Craig City Manager Jim Feree heard about the news second-hand from Jim Dodd on Wednesday, but said the city would put its plans to support a lease for the club on hold.

But Dodd was upbeat during a phone interview. "This tripped us up a little, but we're still moving ahead," he said. "This could actually simplify things."

The ownership and tenant situation in the Armory is complex as things now stand.

The federal government paid for 75 percent of the Armory's building expenses in the late 1950s. Colorado paid for the rest. The state received the title to the building as soon as it was built, and the state still possesses that title to this day.

But since 1996, Moffat County has leased the Armory from the state at a cost of $1. The commissioner board, in turn, decided to lease the building to the Boys and Girls Club at the same price they paid the state.

But the commissioners had apprehensions about signing a long-term lease with the club for fear it would fall apart and the building would be left vacant. So Craig City Council volunteered to sign another lease and use the building's gym for its own programs.

But all along, the federal government has reserved the right to sell the Armory at its discretion. It recently exercised that option after determining the National Guard would never again use the building, William Robinson, deputy director of Military and Veteran Affairs, said.

Although the state has no immediate plans to sell the Armory, it has been ordered by the federal government to look into selling it. The building hasn't been appraised yet, but Robinson said a similar building in Lamar was valued at $330,000.

Dodd isn't worried because he doesn't think many people in the community will rush to pony up that much money for a building. He said it is sometimes easier to obtain capital grants from private organizations than operational grants and believed it could be possible to raise the money to purchase the Armory. If the club were to be privately owned, it would streamline the complicated leasing process and possibly encourage more donations.

Even if that doesn't work, he isn't counting the club out.

"When we started this project we didn't have a building," he said. "This isn't insurmountable. We have other options to consider."

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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