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Such a Deal

| February 23, 2006 11:00 PM

I'm not sure what the school board has in mind by flatly turning down ConoverBond's offer for a partnership: The Spokane-based company really isn't asking for anything but time to develop a project that could save the old Libby High School.

If they fail, the school district isn't out anything but time. If ConoverBond succeeds, it could mean a significant economic development coup for the community. That's a good thing.

If the company fails, the school district can proceed with whatever alternative there is: Most likely demolition — just at a later date. ConoverBond is too successful a business to string this project along for too long - they can't make money that way.

A successful project for ConoverBond benefits this community in more ways than saving the old school. Company representatives would probably have good things to say about the community to prospective investors looking for a place to develop similar projects or new development. On the other hand, if the Spokane construction company has a bad experience dealing with local people, they're not likely to say very good things to other people about investing here.

It's far better to have the school district as partner for such a project, retaining some say in how that building would be used than selling it outright and having to live with whatever is developed. There's few laws - city, county or state - that restrict the use of that property once there is an ownership change.

And it's not reasonable for the school district to make the sale contingent on what ConoverBond does with the building. They're trying to develop that plan and don't need any more restrictions besides the size, condition and location - in Libby - of that building.

Finally, the school board better conjure up some patience because if ConoverBond goes away, the Friends of Historic Libby High School aren't going to succumb without a protracted and possibly expensive legal fight.

That's why the district has nothing to lose with the simple partnership agreement — Roger Morris