Fairfield Ledger
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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 24, 2017

Committee debates future of Libertyville school building

Requests for proposals likely
By Nicole Major, Ledger staff writer | Oct 20, 2017
Photo by: Nicole Major/Ledger photo Members of the Libertyville Building Committee peruse the school’s gymnasium during their meeting Wednesday. From left are committee members Frank Broz, Rob Nelson, Kelly Scott, Jeff Koontz and Joshua Laraby.

LIBERTYVILLE – The Libertyville Building Committee met for the first time Wednesday evening and discussed the destiny of the Libertyville Elementary School building.

The committee is composed of Libertyville’s Mayor Rod Nelson, Fairfield Community School District superintendent Lauri Noll, district business manager Kim Sheets, school board members Frank Broz and Kelly Scott, district facilities director Jeff Koontz, and two Libertyville community members, who are Bev Nelson and Jeff Proctor.

Noll invited Fairfield Economic Development Association executive director Josh Laraby to provide insight to the group.

The committee initially toured the school building, which was built in 1971, before meeting at Libertyville City Hall.

“Our philosophy, when we were looking at the building, is we wanted to know what the Libertyville community thought would be the best outcome for the building and how it would best benefit the community,” said Noll, explaining that there were costs to the district to keep the building minimally operable.

Koontz divided out a complete breakdown of estimated annual costs to maintain the building.

The estimated costs for the district to maintain the building are as follows: $696 for water, which is currently shut off; $6,600 for electricity, with the main portion of the costs during the winter months; $2,700 for gas, which reflects a reduction of building temperature settings by 30 percent; and insurance for the building is $3,000 annually.

According to Koontz’s report, other costs to maintain the building can vary widely depending on what repairs have to be done as far as roof leaks, unit ventilator motors, insurance required for the playground equipment repairs, fire alarm inspections, state required boiler inspection, a water heater nearing the end of its life and other items.

The total minimum to maintain the building would be $13,000 to $18,000 per year, without including any capital repairs, such as a roof replacement or tuckpointing any brick.

Koontz said that some of the building’s inventory, would be auctioned off in the spring.

Noll said that the committee’s purpose was to investigate and research ideas about possible outcomes for the building.

“We want to make sure that a decision is made with all of the right people making it, and then we will make that recommendation to the board,” Noll said.

On Wednesday, the committee discussed everything from repurposing the building into a child care center, adult day care center, business incubator, gymnasium, senior housing facility or condominium complex and climate controlled mini storage facility.

Rod Nelson said that as of Wednesday night, he hadn’t reached out to any realtors.

“I spoke to city council,” Nelson said, adding that ideas came in about repurposing the building into a preschool or climate control mini storage facility.

“Ideally, the building is suited for some type of school,” Nelson said.

Committee members discussed various possiblitites for the building.

Laraby asked what the current needs were in the town. He also mentioned the possibility of retrofitting the building into general housing, and said it would be easy to obtain assistance from the state of Iowa to do so.

“The criteria for that just got better for small towns,” Laraby said, later adding that certain state programs required that cities provide some sort of match, which could be as simple as abating property taxes.

Laraby also suggested that the committee put out a request for proposals, to see what other viable ideas would come in.

“An RFP is a good idea,” Noll said.

Laraby said that he also had a meeting this week with a representative from the Iowa Economic Development Association, and that he would ask if the representative could meet with a committee representative in Libertyville to provide information about state program options.

Beverly Nelson said that she would be willing to meet with someone from IEDA.

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