By Timothy Cox
MENDON -- There is growing support among village officials and others in town to work toward a new community building at the site of the existing Parkway Local Schools building.
The upcoming school year will be the last the Mendon building is used by the district; all students will move into a new K-12 facility in Rockford in August 2006.
Mendon village officials and a private committee seated to study the issue have reach a consensus they want the building demolished. Parkway has $225,000 in its construction budget for clearing the Mendon site and restoring it to green space or a gravel area.
That money goes back to the state if not used to tear down the structure, Parkway Superintendent Doug Karst said.
Dan Crouch, a member of the citizens committee, said support is building for pursuing a new community building at that site. A couple of grant consultants already have looked at the project and said there are grant programs available to help pull it off. Planners are looking at a structure similar to the community building in Rockford, which can be rented out for wedding receptions, reunions and other parties to help pay for itself, Crouch said. Committee members believe the project can be done without any tax dollars, Crouch said.
School officials also favor demolition of the old school buildings in Rockford and Willshire, Karst said. If any of the communities wants to keep the structures, school board members would want to see a long-term financial plan that looks viable, he said. District officials do not want to stick any of the communities with a building that would be abandoned with no available money to tear it down, Karst said.
District officials already have expressed plans to transfer ownership of the sites back to the communities for "less than $100."
Crouch said the town might be able to use the land's true value as a local match for a grant program.
Committee members were asked to attend the Aug. 30 council meeting where they will present their ideas and findings to village officials.