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Future of Draper Park School building uncertain

Published: Friday, July 18 2014 5:12 p.m. MDT

The Draper Park School was built more than 100 years ago. City leaders say it breaks safety standards, but some residents say it's part of their history and they want it in their future.

Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

DRAPER — The Draper Park School was built in 1912, and the building has been vacant for several years.

The Draper City Council is looking of at the possibility of demolishing it, but some residents don’t want to see that happen.

"This really is the heart of the city. It's where the community comes together," said former Draper resident Julie Walker.

Now closed, the brick school was once alive with holiday parties, weddings, performances and elementary education.

"The school has always been in my life," Walker said.

Both Walker's grandmother and mother attended the Draper Park School.

"It's this historic piece we have that can connect us to the past," she said.

Now deemed unsafe, the structure doesn't meet safety codes, said Draper City Councilman Jeff Stenquist. Six months ago, the city banned anyone from entering.

Architect Allen Roberts was hired by the Utah Heritage Foundation to assess the building. He's compiled three studies on the building since the mid-1990s.

"It looks to be in shabby condition because it's been vacant, but in fact it's got good bones," Roberts said.

He said the building needs to be renovated. It contains asbestos, lead paint and needs to be seismically upgraded. The city said renovation would cost several million dollars, but tearing it down would cost $200,000.

For former students such as Todd Shoemaker, there's no price too high to keep the Draper Park School standing.

"At all costs," Shoemaker said.

Lindsay Goeckeritz, who created the group Arts at the Park, has attended several Draper City Council meetings. The group is proposing to create a center for the arts that would function as a nonprofit and would provide a community resource for Draper and surrounding areas.

According to Draper City Council meeting minutes for June 17, the plan would be to restore the exterior of the building and completely repurpose and renovate the interior.

During the meeting, a deadline of Aug. 31 was set for a fully funded proposal for the Draper Park School to the presented to the City Council.

At the same meeting, Councilman Bill Colbert said he wanted to start the bid process for demolition so it can be razed before winter, if an acceptable proposal to save it isn't found.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

Email: ddolan@deseretnews.com

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