District OKs building purchase

GLADSTONE – Under the leadership of new board President Linda Howlett, the Gladstone School Board approved a purchase agreement Monday night for a building to be turned into a bus garage.

The approximately 20,000-square-foot building, located at 103 N. 12th St., is part of a larger property currently owned by Delfab, Inc. The portion of the property the school district intends to purchase has been set at $350,000.

Under the terms of the purchase agreement, the property will be split and the school district will be responsible for the cost of re-establishing utilities to the portion of the property being purchased. The district will also be responsible for closing off a doorway to the portion of the building, which will remain the property of Delfab.

“We’re going to actually pull the garage door and use it elsewhere. It’s a brand new door,” said Mike McFarlane, business manager for the district.

For liability reasons, the wall built over the existing doorway must be capable of preventing a fire from spreading between the bus garage and Delfab properties.

It was noted during the meeting that there are currently back taxes on the property, however, the taxes must be handled by the seller in order to have a clear title on the property.

“That has to all be cleared before we can close,” said McFarlane.

This is not the first time a new bus garage has been considered by the district. Plans were being discussed to establish a new garage as early as 1999.

“We’ve had a lot of changes to the plan and what we’re looking at right now is as economical and efficient as would be possible, and it’s really much more building than we would have ever built on our own,” said Superintendent Jay Kulbertis. “Once we’re in it, we’ll have some time to tweak it and turn it into an absolutely high quality bus garage.”

Plans that involved building a garage from the ground up were scratched largely because of the cost involved.

“This is some great outside-the-box thinking that occurred here that allowed us to do something that looked like it would be eliminated from our bond project because of the cost and we managed to do it and get a facility much bigger than we would have intended,” said newly-elected board Vice President Steve O’Driscoll. “I’m happy to be able to help out a local business and take a piece of floor space that they weren’t utilizing and put it to use, and improve their cash-flow situation while doing so.”

While the bus garage is a high priority for the district, there is no timeline for when the project will be completed.

“I would love to say we were going to be in there this winter season but … it’s got to be inspected, it’s got to be surveyed, there’s some things that have to pass, and then there’s some work that has to be done before we can even get in,” said Kulbertis.