School district, Sunnyside officials explore feasibility of swapping land
During Sunnyside's regularly scheduled council meeting on July 17, Carbon School District superintendent Patsy Bueno discussed a possible land swap with city officials.
The discussion stems from Sunnyside's interest in obtaining the Petersen Elementary School property for use as a new city hall facility.
"We are just looking at the building at this point," pointed out Sunnyside Mayor Bruce Andrews. "We do need a new city hall, but we really have to consider the possible cost of moving into such a large building."
Bueno was at the council meeting to specifically answer questions concerning the district's free and clear ownership of the building and the board of education's interest in working with Sunnyside on obtaining the recently closed elementary school.
"We show that the building was deeded to the school district in 1956 by Kaiser Steel, minus the mineral rights, and the property is formally in the school districts name. However, we do have our attorney, Bryce Bryner, checking to make sure we are legal to potentially change the property deed," said Bueno.
According to the district superintendent, the board of education is interest in swapping land with the east county municipality for the building.
Bueno indicated that the distinct would be interested in obtaining a similar sized piece of land in the Circle Way area of Sunnyside.
The Circle Way property runs along U.S. Highway 123 and is also the selected site for the potential joint East Carbon-Sunnyside public safety building.
Andrews' and the council's questions for Bueno centered around the condition of the school and the heating system in building.
Bueno explained that the school district recently completed a project to level the Petersen building and to insure the safety of the facility.
The school district's superintendent assured the mayor and city council that the building was in working order and safe for occupancy. "We are very anxious to work with the city on this project," noted Bueno. "If you have use for this facility, then we will do all we can to make it happen. We would like to see the city continue to use that building."
The elementary school building is a sensitive issue with many residents of the small community.
Memories of the closure and subsequent demolition of the East Carbon Vikings' High School remains fresh in the mind of citizens and councilmembers alike.
"I don't think that this community could stomach to see another school building torn down," said Sunnyside Councilmember Doug Parsons.
Parsons pointed out that the property of interest to the school district is owned by the county.
Therefore, Sunnyside would have to work out negotiations with Carbon commissioners on the property before the city officials could formally discuss a land swap with the school district.
As for the site of the old East Carbon High, Bruin Point Elementary is on schedule to open its doors for the beginning of the 2008 school year, according to Bueno.
"We have a few things to finish up but it is my hope that teachers can begin moving their stuff in by the end of the month," stated Bueno. "It is a beautiful school, totally state of the art and I think it will make a great addition to this community."
According to the district's superintendent, Bruin Point principal Mellisa Hamilton plans to conduct an open house for all members of the community as soon as the elementary school is ready and everyone is moved into the building.
For further discussion regarding the fesibility of the land swap, Sunnyside city officials requested that Bueno place the matter on the agenda of the next Carbon County Board of Education meeting.
"It is a great facility and I have had community organizations contact me about sharing the space," concluded the Sunnyside mayor. "But we just need to conduct further research to determine whether or not the structure is right for our city hall."