At a glance
• The Moffat County School District gave the county $15,000 for renovations on the Browns Park School.
• The School District transferred ownership of the building to the county earlier this year.
• The Browns Park Alumni Association will use the $15,000 sum to pay for refurbishing the building.
• The school was constructed on Bureau of Land Management property without approval, a local BLM official said.
• If the Alumni Association maintains the building, the property on which it stands will be transferred to the county.
Craig A building that once faced an uncertain fate has now become the responsibility of a group dedicated to preserving it.
The Browns Park School Alumni Association has agreed to refurbish the Browns Park School building using money the Moffat County School District originally had earmarked for the school's demolition.
"It's kind of win-win for everybody," district finance director Mark Rydberg said.
Alumni Association members have indicated they want to convert the building into a community center, Commissioner Tom Gray said.
Alumni Association members were unavailable for comment.
On Wednesday, the School District gave the county $15,000, Rydberg said, adding that the funds initially were reserved for demolishing the unused building.
Alumni Association members can apply to use the funds to refurbish the building, Gray said.
The group already has taken that step.
This week, Alumni Association members requested about $2,800 from the fund to begin work on the school, he said.
Those expenses are solely to cover materials, Gray said, adding that group members are donating labor for the project.
The Browns Park School, which is located on Bureau of Land Management property about 90 miles west of Craig on Highway 318, formerly belonged to the School District.
After the School District closed the school, it still was responsible for the building's upkeep.
This year, the School District transferred the building's ownership to the county, Rydberg said.
The School District has no need for the building "now, and not anytime in the foreseeable future," he said.
Even then, the defunct facility's future wasn't secure.
Before the School District handed the building over to the county, BLM officials were requesting the building's demolition.
The building's construction on BLM land wasn't approved, said Jerry Strahan, assistant field manager at the BLM's Little Snake Field Office in Craig.
The school's builders "thought (they were) putting it on private land and they missed," he said. "That happens out here from time to time."
The school's construction posed a problem for local BLM officials.
"It's kind of a situation where someone builds a garage on your backyard," Strahan said, adding that aging playground equipment on the property poses a safety hazard.
However, a recreation and public purposes lease from the BLM could save the building from demolition.
The lease will allow the county to essentially earn the building if the Alumni Association maintains the school building and follows a plan of development during the next five years, Strahan said.
A review by the BLM at the end of the five-year period will determine if the county gets to keep the land on which the building stands.
"We're pretty happy we're getting something going on" the property, Strahan said.
Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.