Hope is the new word this week following last week's meeting on the old high school.
There's hope a plan will evolve to save the old high school from the proverbial wrecking ball.
There is hope that a beneficial use can be found for the eventually restored old school.
There's hope money can be found to implement that plan.
There's hope that whatever is done doesn't simply transfer existing businesses to a new location leaving more untended empty store fronts.
There's nothing easy about building and nurturing a community — especially when people can't or won't cooperate. The meeting last Friday involving Libby School Trustees, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Montana Preservation Alliance, the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, the Friends of Historic Libby High School, Libby Revitalization Inc., City of Libby representatives, Lincoln County representatives and ConoverBond Development, a Spokane-based company specializing in restoring old buildings is a good start at nurturing both sides of this issue.
Last week, and to some extent this week, wild rumors were flying. First, there was a buzz on the streets that the commissioners were going to commit money to support the preservation effort in the wake of their letter of support. Then over the weekend, in the wake of Friday's meeting, it was the city that was stepping forward to commit dollars so they could move into the former school. Neither rumor is true now but down the road, who knows.
What is true now is ConoverBond representative Ryan Romaneski will be developing more firm plans, pursuing an appraisal of the structure and land and putting together an offer for a purchase. He will bring that back to the next school board meeting in January.
Let's hope the positive direction continues and the actual financial cost to the community is negligible. There will be a cost at some point because very few federal grants come without a local match or commitment of some kind.
For now hope is a good place to be. Hopefully we can repair the hard stances and ugly rhetoric that has evolved on both sides. Hopefully we don't exhaust our social capital on this one "revitalization issue" only to cause more severe hemorrhaging throughout the downtown. That's should be part of the equation or concern with saving this old school.
But to save this building we will need not just hope but fulfillment and that will take a united effort to achieve. — Roger Morris