County sets hearing to sell former armory to school

The Greene County board of supervisors is moving forward on the sale of the former National Guard armory to the Greene County schools. The supervisors at their Nov. 14 meeting set a public hearing for Monday, Nov. 21, at 9:15 am on the proposed sale.

The Greene County school board first discussed ending its lease for bus storage space at the fairgrounds last February after the Fair Association notified the school of its intent to increase the rental rate. When purchasing the armory from the county secondary roads department was first mentioned, the price discussed was $300,000. The purchase price was not part of the September bond proposal; school officials planned to use physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL) funds.

The school continued its lease at the fairgrounds through June 30, 2017, with plans to purchase the armory. The school board has not publicly discussed the purchase in recent months as it worked toward a bond referendum in September, and with budget issues since then.

County engineer Wade Weiss is preparing for the sale as he plans for a new location to store secondary roads vehicles and equipment. He has reminded the supervisors that when the county purchased the building from the Greene County Development Corporation after the National Guard unit left Jefferson, there was an agreement that the county would sell the building at such time that a better public use was known, and that the sale price not be higher than what the county has invested into the building.

Weiss has suggested a sale price of $250,000, although a purchase agreement has not been written yet.

The high emotions surrounding the school board’s decision last week to close the intermediate school in Grand Junction surfaced as the supervisors discussed the resolution setting the public hearing needed to sell county property.

Supervisor Mick Burkett is a former longtime East Greene school employee and a Grand Junction resident. He voiced frustration over the school district purchasing property at this time. “Grand Junction got throwed under the bus is where I’m coming from,” he said about the building closure.

“When I sit here, that’s not my concern,” answered board chair John Muir. “It may be the concern of people, but I’m making this decision based on what’s best for the Greene County and the secondary roads department.”

Burkett continued, “We’re all part of this new school district, but the school board feels they can’t afford to keep what we’ve got, but now they want to buy more.” He said the school board should use the money it intends to spend on the armory to repair or upgrade the intermediate school.

Supervisor Dawn Rudolph of Scranton told Burkett she understands his feelings. The school building in Scranton was closed and then razed several years ago. “It’s really hard for your community. It just is, and communities have to find a way to pick up and move on. That isn’t easy…. It’s a constant fight, a constant battle,” she said.

 

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