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City schools offer to sell board office to county

Could be center for emergency operations

 

A second historic building is on the table as a possible headquarters for the county’s emergency services operations.

Representatives from the Ironton Board of Education and the district’s superintendent attended the county commission’s regular Thursday meeting to say that the school’s board office could be sold to the county for approximately $350,000. That is about 10 times less than the estimate to renovate Memorial Hall for the same purpose.

“It is no secret that it has been available for some period of time,” board member Mark Fields told the commissioners. “We are looking at what the county is trying to do and one thing that is obvious is the proximity to the sheriff’s office and the courthouse. This would create more of a campus-like project.”

Right now the district’s board office is in the former post office building. That building was erected in 1913 and turned over to the school district in 1969, when the new post office was built on the corner of Railroad and Fourth streets.

In 2007 a private appraisal for the building put its value at $350,000 according to a school board handout. In 2011 the county appraised the property at $307,590, according to the auditor’s office.

Since the first of the year the county commission has weighed taking ownership of Memorial Hall to turn it into a center for the county’s 911 dispatching, EMS, EMA, and coroner’s office. An architect’s estimate puts renovating the building at approximately $3.7 million. That plan would gut the 19th Century structure and install a freestanding interior that would be used for offices for emergency services. The county estimates approximately 20,000 square feet would be needed for the consolidation.

The county tried and failed to get a $2.5 million maritime security grant and is now seeking historic tax credits to get its cost for the project down to $1.2 million.

“We are not saying do this rather than that,” said Fields who suggested there could be other opportunities to restore Memorial Hall besides the current proposal. “And the board office is in the Empowerment Zone. Memorial Hall is just outside. There may be other grant opportunities (because of the zone).”

Commission President Les Boggs asked for the square footage, which Superintendent Dean Nance said he would provide to the commission.

Commissioner Bill Pratt asked what the utility costs were for the building, which Nance said he would get as well.

“Our primary goal is to provide these consolidated services, not just to preserve Memorial Hall,” Pratt said.

Boggs told the school board representatives that the commission would consider the offer.

“I don’t think we would be doing the taxpayers justice if we did not pursue other options,” he said. “This gives us another option”

Fields pointed out that the old post office, built 21 years after Memorial Hall, is an equally historic building in the city.

“It is one of the landmarks for the county,” he said. “It is much more building that the board of education needs.”