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Careful

| April 22, 2005 12:00 AM

It's becoming clear that the upcoming school election ballot question on whether to sell the old Libby High School or tear down the old Libby High School will not be the end of discussion on an issue that has dragged on too long.

Election results are not going to be satisfying to anyone regardless of the outcome.

For instance, if the electorate decides to not sell it, can we infer they want it torn down or are they reluctant to make that commitment without more information on possible redevelopment of the building.

For instance, what the building would be used for - if it is sold - goes a long way to influencing votes to sell. The present information has shops and offices locating there. Downtown Libby has no shortage of store fronts and another shopping center is being proposed on U.S. Highway 2 where the Caboose Lounge once sat.

Also, going into the election it would be nice to know the timeline for planning and construction, as well as whether there would be a bond to insure completion in a timely fashion. These are all things the school district still has the ability to negotiate to protect the community.

Many people taking an anti-sell position today are concerned about a never-ending project beginning within the heart of the city. There is also concern with compatibility to the Memorial Center, to the activities that occupy the grounds of the school on select weekends of the year.

Waiting to share that information until after the school district sells the property is disingenuous.

At the same time, this area has a history of being short-sighted on major issues and voters could opt to take the money at a significant future cost if the development fails. That same short-sightedness could be applied to voting against thee opportunity to make something special out of the old school.

Cutting to the chase, I don't think we know any more today than we did when Gary Huntsberger was on the school board and pushing for demolition. In a year and a half to two years we've just lined up on two sides of an issue and once again seem poised to threaten the ability of the community to work together for the best solution or at least a common solution.

We can't afford to let this degenerate into a us-and-them battle that depletes social capital, not on the eve of the community committing to work together on revitalizing the downtown.- Roger Morris