History in hand: Moffat County commissioners, alumni association work to acquire Browns Park schoolhouse
The Moffat County Board of County Commissioners and the Browns Park Alumni Association are teaming up to gain back ownership of a small, historic schoolhouse near Dinosaur National Monument.
The association went before commissioners Tuesday, April 16 to sign an memorandum of understanding wherein Moffat County would buy the BLM-owned land and essentially sell it directly to the alumni association for the cost of its acquisition.
The alumni association has been keeping up and improving the building for years — adding new windows, flooring and paint, among other things — but now the county has agreed to help them gain ownership to use as a community center.
“It really turned out pretty,” said Kathy Bower with the alumni association.
“We’ve been using it for various functions. For several years, we’ve had an Easter service there.”
“We hope to keep it up, keep it as a community center,” Bower said.
Craig Police Department Captain Bill Leonard, who grew up in the Yampa Valley and is a member of the Browns Park Alumni Association, said he was fortunate to attend the school briefly when he was a young boy.
“There’s a corner of that school with my initials on it,” Leonard said with a laugh. “I spent a lot of time in that corner.”
Jeff Comstock, the county’s natural resource director, said he expects the Browns Park schoolhouse, the land it sits on, and any other amenities to be appraised at about $10,000. Comstock said the alumni association has about $6,800 cash on hand and has agreed in the MOU to pay the county back the full cost of acquiring the property.
For now, they’ll all have to wait for the federal government to appraise the property, which could take at least another year.
“It is very frustrating to see something take a year, but we’re on the federal timeframe at that point,” Comstock said.
All three county commissioners approved the acquisition — especially Commissioner Donald Broom, who said preserving their culture while getting the federal government out of the picture is a good thing.
“You’re preserving history,” Broom said. “And the part I like about it, at the end of the day, the federal government don’t own it.”