By JEROD CLAPP
The Clark County Commissioners unanimously voted to rescind a resolution to purchase the old Corden Porter building on Court Avenue from Greater Clark County Schools.
The district’s legal counsel, Sandra Lewis, sent an email to the commissioners Nov. 15 explaining that Superintendent Andrew Melin believes the building could serve the district well in the future.
“As a follow up to some conversations that I’ve had with Ed Meyer, Greater Clark is no longer interested in selling the old Corden Porter building,” the email says. “With Dr. Melin coming on board, he is interested in keeping that site as a location to either build a new elementary school on or to renovate for an expanded program for Corden Porter students. Greater Clark realizes that the county is strapped for funds at this time and that purchasing the building might be difficult.
“Rather than having Greater Clark school board vote to reject the offer, I have asked Ed [Meyer, commissioner] if the commissioners would consider a vote on Tuesday to withdraw its offer to purchase the property at this time.”
The district was going to sell the property to the county for $378,000 in two payments, per the original resolution approved by the commissioners.
While selling the property was initiated by the administration under former superintendent Stephen Daeschner because of budget concerns, Melin said the school may have some use for the district yet. He also said since the district’s new chief financial officer Tom Dykiel was able to find about $300,000 and get board approval to advertise additional appropriations at the board’s meeting Tuesday, the money is less of a concern.
“We feel like those dollars are important, but two things have happened,” Melin said. “I think we’ve been able to find some dollars. I just think we have some plans in place to get where we need to in balancing our budget and we have between now and the end of 2014 to do it.”
He also said the building’s location in downtown Jeffersonville could be advantageous for other purposes, such as expanding programming at the current Corden Porter School nearby, which houses special and alternative education programs for the district.
John Perkins, county commissioner, said he thought the purchase would have been advantageous for the county as its population expands, but the commissioners decided to honor the request of the district.
“If you’re looking five to 10 years down the road, which I always try to do, I think the purchase of that building would have been prudent for the county,” Perkins said. “We’re going to need the space, probably create a couple more courts and office space is at a premium right now.”
He said an inspection he conducted of the property with Meyer showed the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems appear to be in good shape along with the roof. He said without being able to detect asbestos in the building and new windows, the cost to renovate might not too bad, but he thought the estimates came in somewhere around $250,000 to $500,000.
Melin said he’s not concerned about costs to keep the property maintained and insured. He said as the district formulates a strategic plan, they’re going to have to look hard at what to do with facilities and the shape of the buildings in the corporation. But he said he thinks whatever the building is used for in the future, the community may be asked to contribute to its repairs, along with others in the district.
“At this point of time, we don’t believe [insurance and maintenance are] something that would prohibit us from keeping that property,” Melin said. “As I said, it’s a balancing act because on one hand, you can say let’s sell the property and therefore get some revenue for it and reduce expenditures in insurance and other costs. But in terms of future use and its location, it has some great potential. So I guess when we weighed the options, we needed to keep that property.”