County deciding Elk Creek's fate

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE — The future use of the closed Elk Creek school building is still up for debate, but citizens of that Grayson County community are excited about the possibilities.

Kevin Spurlin, member of the School Facilities Committee — formed to help determine what to do with old buildings after schools are closed — updated the board of supervisors Feb. 12 on where things stood in Elk Creek.

A public forum was held on Jan. 26 and 58 people attended.

Spurlin said several things were currently known about the building, including:

• Elk Creek Volunteer Fire Department has a 99-year lease on the firehouse, with 61 years remaining. All improvements to that building and adjacent grounds have been paid for by the department.

• The fire department has a yearly lease on the ballfield property. The lease is self renewing with a 30-day opt-out clause prior to the next lease period. This lease states that the ground belongs to the county and everything above the ground — lights, etc. — belongs to the fire department.

• The school driveway is a state-maintained road.

• The water for the fire department comes from the school well.

Overall, Spurlin said the support from the community was overwhelming and he gathered from comments at the public forum that the fire department has a vested interest in the school property and is taking the lead on developing preliminary recommendations.

Spurlin also said that the community had overwhelming support for the fire department to obtain portions of the old school property.

Before any formal recommendations can begin, Spurlin said the committee needed to know when the county wants to get rid of the property; whether the county plans to adequately — not minimally — maintain the building; and if the board of supervisors would prefer to split the building and land or dispose of both as a whole.

Supervisors' Chairman Mike Maynard took a minute to answer each question.

As for the time frame, his answer was "ASAP."

As for the maintenance, Maynard said the county wanted to get rid of the buildings as quickly as possible to avoid having to pay for maintenance on the buildings.

"We have no funds set aside for maintenance [at Elk Creek]," he said. In other words, the county will do only the minimal amount to keep the building up.

Maynard said he was concerned about splitting the property, as the value of it rests in the land, while the cost of it is in the building.

Supervisors' Vice Chairman Larry Bartlett said he had no problem splitting the land, so long as the entire property was disposed of.

"How it is done is not my concern," he said. "As a total plan, let's get rid of the total facility."

Spurlin said he would take the information received back to the community at the next scheduled public forum, which was held Feb. 16.