Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Is the city of Kuna interested in the Old 4th Street Gym?

Is the city of Kuna interested in buying the Old 4th Street Gym? I’m only taking a stab in the dark here, but it sounds like the city might be trying to put something together to make a bid on the property. As reported previously in the Kuna Melba News, the Kuna school district is looking to offload the historic 4th Street Gym in an effort to generate revenue for an expansion of the district administrative office to include more offices and a professional-technical program. Here’s why I think the city might be considering throwing in a bid. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, council member Rich Cardoza asked whether they were going to go into an executive session. Mayor Greg Nelson said no but he was planning on getting council members together for a work session sometime next week, perhaps Wednesday, May 23. Cardoza said that time is of the essence on this matter. Nelson responded that he understood there was a deadline of May 24 to make a decision. It just so happens that May 24 is the deadline for the school district to accept bids on the gym property. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the city were considering putting in a bid. I’ve had many residents suggest to me that the city should just “take over” the gym — which is a lot different from plunking down a few hundred thousand dollars for it. I have a few concerns, naturally. First, where would the city come up with the money for the purchase? Would the city try to pass a bond? Would the city try to squeeze it out of existing fund balances? Would the city try to create a recreation district to fund the purchase and operate the gym? Next, what would the city use the building for? Would they move city hall in there? Is it enough space to house city hall? The building is listed as 18,396 square feet, with about 10,000 square feet used up by the gym, leaving about 8,369 square feet. But is all of that usable space? How much would it cost to make all of the space usable? Further, how much would it cost to do renovations, bring it up to code, abate asbestos and lead paint, pave over the parking lot? Don’t forget curb, gutter and sidewalk. I’d like to see something done with the gym, and I’d like to see the gym itself preserved. I’m not really sure that someone from the private sector would come forward and keep the gym intact. More likely a private developer would just tear down the whole thing, so a public entity like the city might be the only solution. Before that happens, though, the city has a lot of questions to answer. Hopefully, the public will get a chance to weigh in on the matter soon.

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