School board rejects bids for old bus garage after City condemns portion

Board member Mike Theis votes against, saying he's 'highly disappointed' in City's action

Mike Christopherson

Acting on Superintendent Jeremy Olson’s recommendation, the Crookston School Board this week rejected all of the bids submitted to purchase the two buildings that comprise the old school district bus garage near the old Central High School property downtown, after Olson said the City of Crookston notified him that it was going to condemn one of the buildings, meaning it would have to be demolished if its ownership changed hands.

Board member Mike Theis, saying he was “highly disappointed” with what had transpired, cast the lone vote against the resolution.

The brick portion of the old bus garage is “good and sound,” Olson said, but the City said the wooden building, white in color, is not. The original advertisement for bids included both structures, he said.

“At that last minute, there was City communication that gives the City authority to condemn and force demolition if (the property) changes ownership,” Olson explained. “…The City is saying the wooden portion needs to come down.”

The plan is to rebid, but only include the brick structure, Olson said, and then come up with some sort of agreement with the winning bidder regarding the terms and conditions involved with demolishing the wooden structure.

Theis said he’d like to contest the City’s action if there was a legitimate way for the school district to do so. In noting his disappointment in what the City was doing, he said the timing of it is “suspect” and he also mentioned that he’s seen other buildings in town with roofs and floors caving in that are in worse shape than the wooden bus garage building. Theis said he also questions the City’s “expertise in telling us we have to tear down a building that appears to be holding its own for a fair amount of time.”

“Now we’re on the hook for a significantly reduced value, and tearing it down as part of an agreement,” he added.

City Building Official Greg Hefta communicated the City’s action in a one-page report, Theis said.

The Times reached out to Hefta as well as City Administrator Amy Finch Monday evening to see if they had any response to Theis’ concerns, but hadn’t gotten a reply from Hefta or Finch as of the writing of this story. If they respond, this story will be updated.