Contract approved: Hayden to pay $50,000 to save school
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The town of Hayden has signed a contract to purchase the soon-to-be-vacant secondary school for future use as a community center.
Town officials reached an agreement this week with the Hayden School District to buy the school for about $50,000, as previously discussed, according to Town Manager Mathew Mendisco.
This marks the latest development in a months-long effort to save a portion of the school from demolition and repurpose it into a space for a multitude of public uses, from a child care center to a fitness area to a performing arts venue.
Complicating the deal is the lack of an established funding source to operate the community center. As Mendisco has explained in the past, funding operations would require additional public revenue, which officials want to achieve through a 1% hike in sales tax. The proposed tax increase will appear as a ballot initiative in the November elections, Mendisco said.
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The timeline of the nearly $39 million BEST grant, which is helping to fund construction of the new school, required a demolition plan to be finalized by March, according to Hayden School Board President Brian Hoza. That tight deadline presented town officials with the awkward ultimatum of either purchasing the school without a public vote on the sales tax or abandoning the preservation effort altogether.
Hayden residents have voiced strong support for the preservation and repurposing of the school. A survey conducted in the fall showed the vast majority of respondents, about 85%, agree the school should be repurposed. That morale has remained steady, Mendisco said.
The town will host a community launch party on March 27 to give residents a clearer idea of how the space will be used. Guests will have a chance to walk through the school and hear from officials about the various services it could offer.
What: Launch party for the future community center in Hayden
Where: Hayden High School, 495 West Jefferson Ave.
When: 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 27
As Mendisco explained, the community center would allow Totally Kids, a local nonprofit, to have a permanent space to provide full-day programming and a preschool service. In addition to the recreation and performing arts opportunities also slated for the building, the idea arose to offer some type of vocational training for younger people to develop job skills.
The deal on the school is projected to close on Oct. 14, according to Mendisco. Some details have yet to be settled, such as a memorandum of understanding that would allow the School District to use the school for events like school tournaments and theater performances. If all goes according to plan, Mendisco expects operations at the community center to begin by January.
Demolition for the remaining portion of the school is scheduled to begin immediately following the end of the school year, Hoza said. Because the demolition costs will be lower than originally anticipated, the School District will have to return some of the grant funding to the BEST program.
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