Having determined to close East Mill Creek Elementary School this fall, Granite School Board members now are trying to decide what to do with the school building and adjacent property.
Several options have been proposed, including leasing or selling the school building to private or parochial schools that have expressed interest, developing it into a community arts center, selling to a developer who would build houses on the property, using it for district programs other than regular classes or selling it for commercial uses.Board members decided Tuesday night to delay a decision until they have had time to study the possibilities in depth. A study session will be held Aug. 16 for that purpose.
The board is sensitive to the wishes of East Mill Creek residents who have sought assurances that the grounds will be preserved as a green space for the community.
Richard Romney, a homeowner in the area, proposed to board members Tuesday that the school be developed into a community center that could include arts programs, community education, children's activities, community theater, sports programs, programs for the elderly, workshops and other activities.
He said there are a number of arts groups that are trying to find a home and that there are people in the community who might be interested in financing such a project.
"Please don't just take the easy way out and simply sell the school to the highest bidder," Romney said in a letter to the board. "There should be consideration given to the best interests of community residents and to their continuing education, despite the closure of public facilities."
The East Mill Creek Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has proposed purchasing the school grounds to maintain ball fields and other recreational facilities. They would be available to the community "on a scheduled basis."
Salt Lake County also has expressed an interest in administering the recreational property but has no money to purchase it, said Carl Christiansen, district director of building and grounds.
He said the school area would have to be rezoned to accommodate commercial or other uses of the property aside from education. He said he has contacted governmental agencies to alert them to the availability of the property, as is customary. Salt Lake County would like the option to use the property on a revisionary contract that would require them to return control to the school district when requested.
Board Member J. Dale Christensen said the district needs "some gel time" to look at all the options. The decision to close the school was made to bring the district into compliance with the state's new 70 percent school utilization requirement, he said, but there might be ways to retain the property for district uses, including innovative programs that have been bypassed because there was no place to house them.
Board member Lynn Davidson agreed that there are some intriguing possibilities, including a privately funded science center.