Grand Junction school to be demolished

The Grand Junction city council has voted not to attempt to keep the former Grand Junction school building standing. The decision was made at the council’s regular meeting Aug. 14. The council had held a town hall meeting July 31 to hear input from residents. The majority of those who spoke at the July meeting said demolishing the building was the best plan.

The Grand Junction school is vacant for the first time since January 1915. The building was completed that month and it was put into use immediately. The building was closed at the end of the 2016-17 school year.

Greene County Schools closed the building as an attendance center at the end of the 2016-17 school year. The school district gave the Grand Junction city council three options; the school would raze the entire building and deed the lot to the city; the school would demolish a portion of the building and give that and the lot to the city; or the school would transfer the property “as is” to the city.

The city council chose the first option and has no interest in the school marketing the building, either.

School board member Steve Fisher reported to that board that he had attended the city council meeting. The council had some interest in the newer portion of the building, but the heating system would need to be updated and the city wouldn’t be able to cover operating costs once that was accomplished.

The playground will remain for neighborhood children.

Fisher said the city council wants the playground and tennis courts on the north side of the building.

The Grand Junction school will be the third vintage school building to be demolished in the past five years. The three-story portion of the Scranton school was demolished in 2012 after the city council chose to use the gymnasium and the newer portion of the building as a community center and city hall.

The East Greene school board had closed the Rippey school, and one of the board’s last actions before reorganizing with Jefferson-Scranton was to assure the demolition of that building. The three-story classroom portion of the building was demolished in 2014, but the gym was retained and is used for sub-varsity practices and competitions. The East Greene district paid for the revisions needed on the heating system to separate the gym from the rest of the building.

Demolition of the Rippey building cost $95,600, but the school district – by then, the Greene County district – recouped about 20 percent of the cost through an Iowa DNR grant that provided incentives for diverting materials from landfills.

A joint committee of the Grand Junction city council and the school board will decide how to proceed on the demolition of the Grand Junction building.

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