Manila School Board votes to demolish old gymnasium

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Manila School Board members met in a special called meeting Monday, June 18, to discuss building issues.

Board member Tracey Reinhart made a motion to rescind the action taken at last week's meeting to wait 90 days to take down the old gymnasium after studying, visiting with contractors and citizens.

At the regular meeting on June 12, the board voted unanimously on a 90 day stay on demolition of the old gymnasium which is scheduled to be taken down, along with Tipton Hall.

Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner had addressed the board at a previous meeting requesting the gymnasium be given to the city to allow time to see if it could be renovated and possibility be leased back to the school through grant funding.

It was pointed out at the regular meeting this had been done in other towns.

After the motion to demolish the gymnasium, board member Johnny McCain asked what information had changed from Tuesday to Monday. He also commented the city had asked them to work with them on this.

“The city has not asked much of us," McCain said. "They provide a park for our baseball and softball teams and they have housed our buses during our construction."

Board member Tommy Wagner also asked what had changed from last Tuesday's meeting to spur the special meeting.

Board President Jeremy Jackson answered, "A discussion on the financial impact to the school and the structure not being stable once the exterior building is taken down."

“We were told it would cost $20,000 to $30,000 a month for the contractors to wait,” Jackson said.

“They could leave and come back or we could get another contractor to demolish the building later,” Board member Wagner said. “Why pay them to stay.”

Reinhart said he wished saving it could have been in the plans two or three years ago.

“I'm uncomfortable scrapping the project and starting over with the street plans,” Reinhart said. “I hate it. I wish we could pick it up and move it across the street.”

Board member Dan Robbins said he is looking at the traffic control and parking.

Reinhart commented Buffalo Island Central gave their gymnasium to the city of Leachville.

“Their gymnasium is located on a corner of the property, ours is located right in the middle of the campus,” he said.

Board member Wagner said the gym had no sentimental value to him and if it has to go he would be okay with the decision. He made the point it is presently being used by the elementary teams and there are ways to go about keeping it at no cost to the city."

He suggested keeping the space until a new facility could be provided might be a good idea. He said the old gymnasium is in better condition than the brown gym.

Board member Casey Wells asked how the elementary practices would be scheduled in the new facility.

Superintendent Pam Castor said they would get access like they do in other places.

When asked how the city council felt about taking the gym, Mayor Wagner said it was going to be discussed at the regular June meeting scheduled for Monday.

Mayor Wagner also said he does not want the council to look like the bad guys. He went on to say a lot of money has been spent on the streets near the school, a new sewer system was put in starting at the school, providing baseball/softball fields for the high school teams, Building 100 gives the high school teams indoor practice areas and dressing rooms.

“There is nothing we can't accomplish if we work together,” Mayor Wagner said. “Like I said when I was here before, I don't want the old gym to look like a sore thumb.”

He asked the board to take the high school down and leave the gym to see what can be done.

“The kids you look after are the same ones we look after,” Mayor Wagner said. “We are looking at purchasing a ladder truck since you decided to build a two-story high school.”

The motion to rescind the stay on the demolition of the old gymnasium passed 5-2 with Wagner and McCain casting the no votes; Reinhart, Jackson, Wells, Robbins, and Monte Middleton cast yes votes.

The meeting adjourned with no further discussion.

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