Payson City wants to make sure Peteetneet School doesn't freeze, even though purchase negotiations with the Nebo School District are "on ice."
But the district's insurance company won't allow the boiler to be started until after $10,000 worth of repairs."Some buildings deteriorate if they get too cold," said city administrator Rod Watkins. "Peteetneet is masonry, so it shouldn't expand and contract as much as a stick house would."
The 87-year-old elementary school was closed last year after an engineer's report concluded the structure would not withstand an earthquake. Since it has been expensive to maintain the building and would be much more costly to bring it up to safety code, the Nebo School District has tried to sell the building.
The land was appraised at about $75,000; the building was judged worthless because of the amount of renovation it would require.
The Payson City Council hopes to acquire the site for the city use, and has agreed to pay utility bills for a year to protect the structure, but will not spend $10,000 to have the boiler fixed while negotiations are under way. The electricity was hooked up, but the pipes were drained so they would not burst in freezing temperatures.
Residents organized earlier this year to ask Payson to buy and preserve the historic school, or at least maintain the land as a park. Early results of a survey mailed to Payson residents show about 80 percent of respondents support saving the school, and would be willing to help pay for the project.
Payson officials have been negotiating for the land with Nebo officials, and have discussed trading land in another part of town for the site, but Watkins said there is "a lot more dickering to do before the deal is set."
"They want $75,000 for the lot, but that's a lot to pay when you consider all the money it would take to bring the building up to snuff," Watkins said. One estimate projected restoration costs at $45 per square foot.
Meanwhile, the citizens group is making more plans.
"We have been meeting with different people to see what historic grants we would qualify for," said Helen Scott, group member. "There is some talk of turning part of Peteetneet into a senior citizens center, so there could be some grant money for that."
Other group members have suggested turning the structure into an entertainment center, an art gallery, a center for "lost" arts such as quilting and spinning wool, or a community reception hall.