Thursday, June 13, 2024

A few points

| October 21, 2005 12:00 AM

We need to set the record straight on the old school debate.

First, the school board is not proposing to build a parking lot after they tear down the old school. Actually, the school board hasn't proposed anything, yet they should tell the public what is going to happen.

Before there was a save the old school movement, there were proposals being kicked around by two different groups to develop the old school space as a downtown park that could better accommodate Logger Days and Nordicfest and whatever events we want to hold in this community. Those groups have disappeared in the woodwork because of the controversy that has erupted over what to do with the building.

Second, people shouldn't be upset now that the school board is not "abiding by the will" of the electorate. Trustees said before the election that they weren't obligated to follow the voters decision on this issue. I believe they said something like they wanted to get a sense of the public on the issue. People should have been upset before the election. After all, why bother vote if the board was going to do whatever they wanted to.

Third, where the heck is the Libby City Council, the Libby Revitalization Inc. and the downtown merchants. Hiding. Yeah, hiding.

This is a damning statement about this community — far more damaging than a community unwilling to take care of its old historic buildings. We have key groups, who are directly impacted by whatever happens at the site, avoiding any participation in the discussion because of fear of reprisals.

Shame on all of us. That fear is based on truth. We seem to hold grudges around here that last in perpetuity. Perhaps that's why nothing gets done: Fear of upsetting anyone and their great, great grandchildren holding something against your great, great grandchildren.

To be a community we have to all participate in the debate and we have to respect the other person's opinion, position or just plain thought. And we have to work together.

This issue has taken far too long.

The school board didn't just go against the will of the electorate in a recent decision to tear down the building. They rejected an incomplete proposal from the Friends of the Old Libby High School. Simply put, that proposal offered $100,000 for the building with another $250,000 proposed in in-kind improvements. The minimum bid was supposed to be $350,000 to purchase the structure.

This community can't afford a white elephant sitting there for the next 20 years while a community group tries to raise money to piecemeal a renovation.

This type of work is done with a specific use or business in mind from the outset. The building is literally rebuilt with that tenant's or type of tenant's needs in mind. It's not only more efficient in terms of construction but cheaper in the long run. If Conover Bond Development wants to take on the project, somebody will have to pick up the bill and there will be a time schedule for completion.

Finally, the school board needs to be pressed, and pressed hard, about their plans for the building or site or if they tear it down. It's no less an eyesore if they tear it down and do nothing than if we leave the building standing and watch it crumble from neglect. — Roger Morris