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Trustees agreeing to sell old school

| July 23, 2004 12:00 AM

By Paul Boring, Western News Reporter

The fate of the old Libby High School building became clearer on Tuesday night at a regular trustees meeting when the board agreed to examine selling the structure and property once a new resolution has been drafted.

Superintendent Kirby Maki agreed to discuss the legalities of selling the building with attorneys before formulating a resolution.

³We need to be specific on the exact amount of property we¹re talking about,² Maki said.

At last month¹s meeting, Vicki Munson of the Friends of Historic Libby High School told the board that a group of private investors had committed $100,000 to purchase the old high school building. Former trustee Lee Disney has been a strong advocate of selling the building.

³Cut your strings and get rid of it,² Disney said. ³It¹s not your responsibility.²

Maki recently contacted area realtors to solicit assistance in accurately appraising the historic building and property. Due to liability, the realtors and appraisers declined to venture an estimate, although one placed the value of the building and property between $165,000 and $175,000.

³I asked realtors for a broker¹s opinion with and without the building on the property,² Maki said. ³Without a similar building to compare it to, they were really leery of doing that.²

Gary Huntsberger, who proposed demolishing the building months ago, would still be able to carry out his project if his financiers were able to make the highest offer.

³If Gary wants to buy it for $200,000 and tear it down for $100,000, let him,² Disney said.

To put the district in a legal position to sell or demolish the property, last month the board passed a resolution allowing for disposal of the property. Drafting a new resolution specifically addressing sale of the property would be in the district¹s best interest, the board agreed.

³It¹s a gray area, but the resolution¹s supposed to handle that,² Maki said. ³A second resolution would be valuable in specifying the legal description of the property.²

A reversionary clause could be included in the sales agreement to ensure that the building is utilized for the originally intended purposes, Maki said. The district could also include a clause allowing the board to refuse all offers.

³My greatest fear is that it will be sold and sit there and nothing will be done with it,² said trustee Jerry Frament.

The school board will examine the new resolution at the August board meeting.

³This has been a drag on everything,² trustee Jim England said.

³Let¹s get back to educating K-12,² added Libby High School principal Rik Rewerts.