Nestled on the east side of Craig, the Luttrell Barn practically is empty.
It hasn’t hosted an event in years — and it possibly won’t ever again.
Built in 1904, the barn has been moved, renovated and now faces some difficult questions. Moffat County owns the structure, and it is up to county commissioners to decide whether they want to put a hefty sum of cash toward fixing it up, or if they should let it go to be demolished or handed over to the Wyman Living History Museum.
The cost to move the barn would be cheaper than fixing it up, said Roy Tipton, director of Moffat County developmental services. It would cost the county about $50,000 to move it to the Wyman Museum.
The county currently has $100,000 set aside for the barn, whether it be for renovations or relocating the structure.
Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers worked on the barn during one of it’s fix-ups. He is against putting much more money toward keeping the barn going as an events center.
“There comes a point in the life of a building where you’re throwing good money into bad,” he said.
But a group in Craig is working hard to keep the structure up and running.
Pat McCaffrey represented the Committee to Save the Barn at the Moffat County Commissioner meeting Tuesday. It’s important to preserve the building, she said, because it’s a part of the county’s collective history and that value outweighs dollars.
“It’s an icon for Moffat County. It kind of captures our agricultural culture,” she said. “There’s so many people who got engaged or married there. There’s a lot of history there.”
The community needs to take a pragmatic approach, Tipton said.
“They got to consider how you maintain it. If you want to save the barn you have to maintain it,” he said.
It’s easy enough to rebuild the barn, but a much bigger challenge to keep it going, Tipton said.
There are other projects in the county that need desperate attention, too, he said. Mathers agreed. Loudy-Simpson needs some attention, he said.
“We’ve got tons and tons of projects to finish up,” Mathers said. “It just kills me when we have such a bad look out at Loudy-Simpson.”
If the county dropped the project to fix the barn, they could allocate that money into other projects.
The Committee to Save the Barn sees the site as a crucial county icon. It can be fixed within budget, too, McCaffrey said.
“It just needs a little TLC and elbow grease,” she said. “Then what we wanted to do is see what we can do renting it out.”
If the county just fixes up the lower part of the barn, it would be feasible to open the barn in 2014 with only $87,000 in renovations — well under budget, McCaffrey said. With that money, they could put on a new roof, replace flooring and execute the necessary smaller projects to get the structure safe and within county code, she said.
“We even have a $15,000 contingency in there,” she said.
According to Tipton’s estimates, that sounds right, he said. However, then the upstairs would have to be blocked off to the public until the county could save more money to make those repairs.
Mathers said he is doubtful the barn would be able to attract enough business to offset the costs of the rebuild and routine maintenance.
“What’s the usage going to be in it?” he said. “We got the Center of Craig. We got the (Moffat County Fairgrounds) Pavilion. We got lots of meeting places, and if you put another one there, the usage on the other ones are going down.”
County records show that the barn has not turned a profit in quite some time. In 2010, the county paid $2,348 on expenditures and brought in only $1,895 in total revenue. Similar numbers were recorded for 2011. The barn was closed in 2012.
The Committee to Save the Barn still is making a push for the county to approve spending the budgeted money to restore the building.
Roberta Hawks is a Moffat County resident who recently toured the barn with the Committee to Save the Barn. She can see the county’s point, she said. It is an expensive project, but she still sees it as a worthwhile investment.
“It would be really nice to see it revived and continue to have a use in our community,” she said.
Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.