Hayden seeks to transform soon-to-be-vacant high school building to community center
HAYDEN — As the Hayden School District prepares to relocate all of its students to the new pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in Fall 2020, the town is exploring repurposing the soon-to-be vacant secondary school into a community center.
That could mean a community gym, performance space and the possibility of more community meeting space in the building at 495 West Jefferson Ave.
Construction on the new school building next to the existing Hayden Valley Elementary School kicked off in March. The new, state-of-the-art building is slated for completion by the 2020-21 school year and was funded in large part by a $38.8 million BEST grant from the state of Colorado.
Part of the BEST grant funding construction of the new school requires the old Hayden High School and middle school be demolished unless another public entity opts to purchase or operate the old building. The goal of this stipulation is to prevent the community from being left with an eyesore.
The town is exploring saving the gymnasium, auditorium and some classroom space in the old secondary school, about 70,000 square feet of space, Hayden Mayor Tim Redmond said.
Much of the middle school would be demolished. The Babson-Carpenter Center would be repurposed into a school bus barn. The Hayden School District could sell or redevelop the football field, Redmond said.
Redmond named a long list of possible uses for the high school’s classrooms: makers spaces, meeting and storage space for community organizations, classrooms for continuing education and childcare facilities.
“Basically, kind of a rec center, community center, continuing education, child care (center),” he said. “We’re trying to wrap up quite a bit there. Maybe we’d be able to have local concerts or movie nights. It would open the door for a lot of education and recreation potential in this end of the valley.”
Redmond said the town feels committed to saving the gym, auditorium space and creating a permanent home for Totally Kids, a Hayden nonprofit that coordinates sports, day camps and after school programming for kids.
He explained Hayden faces a shortage of gym space, frequently forcing late night practices for high school athletes. The auditorium, he said, is one of the few in the valley that is in the “sweet spot” of about 350 seats, making it perfect for theater companies and kids to put on a show and build sets.
The future of the classrooms isn’t so clear.
“If that space is going to be saved, then the BEST grant committee — who would make that decision to allow it to be saved — is going to need a re-use study to show what it’s going to be in the future,” said Town Manager Mathew Mendisco.
The Colorado Center for Community Development at the University of Colorado Denver is set to develop this study, creating designs for the project and proposing how spaces in the old school could be renovated to serve the needs of the community, according to documents presented at the Thursday, Aug. 1, town council meeting.
This work is funded in part by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. The town has also sought an engineer’s review of the building’s structural, electrical and mechanical components.
“We’re trying to move forward in a planned, strategic way, making sure that we have everybody that’s involved come to the table and express their thoughts,” Redmond said. “In a small town, there’s nothing worse than people feeling like they’re being bulldozed.”
Community committees have been formed to explore specific elements of the project, such as financing and construction. Redmond said he and Mendisco have worked hard to be transparent in working on the project, sharing what they plan to do and asking about concerns.
“There are times where you go, ‘You know what, you’re right. We didn’t think about that.’” Redmond said. “That’s the important thing about getting buy-in from the community. They see things we don’t see, and together, we can make a great product.”
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