The futures of the trio of buildings and gas pumps need to be determined

    With Crookston School District voters enthusiastically endorsing at the ballot box the construction of a new bus garage/transportation facility for the district, to be built on Highland School property, several decisions are now facing district administration as far as what to do with the current bus garage facilities located near downtown, in and near a residential neighborhood adjacent to where the former Central High School once stood.

    There are three actual structures. Once is brick and faces East Fourth Street. The district would like to sell that one. The other is around the corner on North Ash Street and is “stick-built.” The district would like to demolish that structure. Next door to that one is a metal-framed garage facility that the district would like to retain for storage. Retaining the structure would also provide the district continued access to the fuel pumps located in front.

    School District Superintendent Jeremy Olson is making a concerted effort to keep the City of Crookston in the loop as district leaders take their next steps regarding the trio of structures. The City Planning Commission recently got up to speed on information Olson provided to them, and their only real concern at this point – while stressing they appreciate Olson keeping them abreast of the process – is who might come forward to purchase the building the district would eventually look to sell.

    “We don’t want to see them sell it to someone for something like a buck and we end up having issues like some of the other buildings (in Crookston),” said presiding Mayor Dale Stainbrook. He recommended that the commission consider setting some conditions that would be tied to any sale of the building. “Like, (the purchaser) has to do something with it, and can’t just let it deteriorate,” Stainbrook continued. “We know Jeremy wants what’s best. He doesn’t want it to sit idle and continue to deteriorate, either.”

    Using the Lincoln School property as an example, commission member Shirley Iverson said the City needs to stay on top of the situation. “We have a track record with some folks just buying some things and not necessarily being good caretakers,” she said.

    Olson said it’s a primary goal to make sure whatever becomes of existing bus garage properties is in the best interests of the city as well as the school district. He said there are clear procedures for districts to follow when disposing of properties or selling them, and sometimes the person with the highest bid doesn’t necessarily have plans that the government/public entities involved want to see come to fruition.

    “If we just want to exit the property without consideration for the city or surrounding residents, then the process is simple and straightforward,” Olson explained. “That is why we are looking for guidance from the city.”

    The school board would have the final say on any decisions regarding the three structures, he added.

    “These have been the first steps in a longer journey to exit this property as good neighbors with the intention of doing what will serve Crookston in the long-term,” Olson continued. “Sometimes determining what this means takes time and a listening ear, which is why we started this process early.”

    As for the existing fuel pumps, the superintendent said it’s the tentative plan as of now for the district to continue to use them in the short-term. But the pumps are near the end of their life, he stressed, so it’s a “very” short-term plan.

    The board will eventually have to decide if self-funding the construction of new pumps at the new bus garage is best, or if the district should simply fill buses at local gas stations.