Blytheville city council considers buying old elementary school

Blytheville city council considers buying old elementary school

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - A Region 8 city is looking to expand city buildings and believes a vacant school building may be the perfect place.

The Fairview Elementary School in Blytheville has sat empty for more than 2 years.

The school wants to sell it and the city needs new office space, bringing up a possible partnership.

Even with no electricity and by the light of flashlights, the Blytheville City Council spent Monday afternoon touring the old school building.

Kevin Snow, city council president, said they are considering this possibility.

"It's a viable opportunity for the city if we can fit it in within our budget means," Snow said.

Snow said the idea came up when they realized they needed to build a new waste water facility.

"Once we decided we would build a new building, we came across this particular property from the Blytheville school system, who they no longer have a need for," Snow said.

Council members, the mayor, Blytheville School District superintendent and other officials walked through the facility that's experienced vandalism in the past.

Snow said regardless of the mostly cosmetic work needed, it's in a great location.

"The city already owns the property beside it and adjacent to it with the city park," Snow said. "So it kind of falls in line with everything right here together."

Blytheville School District Superintendent Richard Atwill said they still have to keep insurance on the building and maintenance crews continue to do upkeep, so if the city took it over, they could reallocate those funds.

"Be able to take those moneys that we are spending on just basic week to week upkeep on this building and put it back towards the classroom," Atwill said.

Atwill said he doesn't want to see the building go to waste.

Snow said the city of Blytheville has made it through some hard financial times, and the focus is to continue improvement.

"Start being proactive on what we spend our money on and so it benefits the city more, not spending money that costs us more money down the road," Snow said.

Snow said the Fairview Elementary School could be used as the location for the new waste water facility and later they could move more offices to the location.

$150,000 has already been set aside to build a new waste water facility, and the city has received a $25,000 grant from the state.

Snow said the next step is to get an engineer inside the building to find out how much this renovation would cost.

They hope to make a decision in the next month.

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