Historic donation: Moffat County School District nears giving Yampa building to Memorial Regional Health | CraigDailyPress.com

Historic donation: Moffat County School District nears giving Yampa building to Memorial Regional Health

Lauren Dodd and Clay Thorp
The Yampa Building was completed in 1925 and was used as a school for students in first through eighth grade before it was repurposed as the central office for school district administration.
Museum of Northwest Colorado/courtesy

In exchange for a discount worth little more than the value of a single-family home, Craig’s $1.6 million Yampa Building will be donated to Memorial Regional Health, if the Moffat County School District Board gives the go-ahead at its board meeting June 20.

If the project goes forward, the nearly 100-year-old building located at 775 Yampa Ave. will be renovated to fit the needs of its new purpose as a for-profit addiction treatment facility called Providence Recovery Services of Colorado.

MRH CEO Andy Daniels and MCSD Superintendent David Ulrich presented an update on the pair’s agreement in principal during a BOE meeting Thursday, May 16, in an effort to increase transparency, Ulrich said.

“The board certainly is aware of one of the things that is out there in the community is perhaps the hospital and the school district have not been as transparent as they could’ve been,” Ulrich said. “You’ve heard me say, ‘I don’t buy that,’ however, we certainly want to make sure that we’re open and honest with our community at every opportunity that we have.”

The two-part agreement would transfer ownership of the Yampa property for a “nominal fee,” Ulrich said. In return, MRH would give the district a 33% discount for the next three years of contracted registered nurse and health technician services, a total savings of $218,126.19.

“One of the things that Andy talked about, and really wanted to emphasize from his position, was a sense of compensation for this building,” he said. “This community has invested a lot for this building. We did not want, and Andy did not want, to give the community the impression that we’re simply giving this building away.”

The 1925-era Yampa Building is priceless to some members of the community because of its many public functions over the years as a school, school district headquarters, an early childhood center and a shared school, according to the Museum of Northwest Colorado archives.

Until this week, the real estate value of the property was unknown to the public. The Yampa Building’s official appraisal value was withheld by appraiser Bob Stevens during his final public report in December, as previously reported by the Craig Press. At the time, Stevens said the disclosure of his estimate of the market value would not be in the best interest of the school district or the community.

According to property data from the Moffat County Tax Assessor Collector’s office obtained by the Craig Press via a Colorado Open Records Act request, the property includes lots 37 through 48 in subdivision “Original Craig.”

The land alone is worth $213,750, some $4,376 less than the savings the district might reap from its pending agreement with MRH. The Yampa Building by itself is valued at another $1,427,914. In all, 775 Yampa Ave. is worth $1,641,664, according to Moffat County tax records.

MRH and MCSD have been in talks about the building for nearly two years, Ulrich said, since July 2017. The decision to enter into real estate negotiations with MRH was decided during a public board meeting held on Feb. 21.

According to previous Craig Press reporting, MRH will be an investor, not an operator, of the proposed Providence Recovery Services of Colorado treatment facility. The addiction treatment center will operate with the help of three private out-of-state partners. Mississippi-based Sunflower Management Group will provide managerial oversight and program development; Affinity Healthcare, Inc. will provide business development and coalition building assistance; and Ascension Recovery Services, headquartered in Morgantown, West Virginia, will provide technical assistance and support.

MCSD administrative support staff will move to the former East Elementary building June 19 to 21, Ulrich said Tuesday.

The transformation of the Yampa Building into a private, for-profit treatment facility would take approximately three or four months, hospital officials said.

Board Secretary Dr. Elise Sullivan voiced her approval of the proposed treatment facility.

“I think if you don’t see addiction in your life, you may not understand, but I’d just like to point out that anyone can experience addiction, whether you’re a CEO of a hospital, a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher, every single person can have addiction issues,” Sullivan said. “We’re going to be changing the face of Moffat County right now. I’m super excited about this model.”

Sullivan abstained from voting on the partnership in February citing a potential conflict of interest, as she might directly benefit financially as a provider at the proposed treatment facility.

On Tuesday morning, at least two Moffat County Commissioners expressed their approval for the school district’s plan to transfer ownership of the Yampa Building to MRH and to make the building into an addiction treatment facility.

“It’s the school board’s choice with what they do with that building, but I do think it’s a good use for that building,” said Commissioner Ray Beck.

Beck said the building’s continued cost of operation won’t burden taxpayers any longer.

“Alleviating the upkeep and maintenance on that building will save them millions every year,” Beck said.

Don Cook said he and his fellow commissioners weren’t involved in the deal to donate the Yampa Building.

“We did not know much more than anyone else did,” Cook said. “By the time we knew about it, it was pretty much already struck.”

But Craig resident Jayne Morely said she’s appalled by the plan.

“So many of us were shocked that the hospital was working with the school district to transfer this building,” Morely said.

Morely and other community members have expressed their displeasure to Craig City Council about the Yampa Building deal. Many feel the school board is cheating the next generation out of a public asset that can still benefit the community’s kids going forward.

“You’re cheating our children,” Morely said of the Yampa Building’s transfer of ownership to MRH. “That school board has a responsibility to our kids.”

The next public BOE workshop and regular meeting will be held at Colorado Northwestern Community College at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 20.