BLOOMER, Wisc. (WEAU) - A Thursday vote decided whether an old school building will be saved.
More than a year after the Bloomer community voted to tear down the old elementary school and build a new one, the Bloomer school board voted to uphold that vote Thursday afternoon despite some new ideas for the building.
Board members said they liked the possibility of keeping the old building in use, but decided that would go against the voice of the people, keeping the wrecking ball swinging.
“We've outgrown the building by quite a significant amount. We’ve had classes in the hallway,” Bloomer schools superintendent Mary Randall said.
In the spring of 2012, after five failed referendums to gain funding, the Bloomer community voted to tear down the elementary school building, replacing it with a new $17 million facility.
“The referendum calls for the demolition, returning it to a green space and those lots can be sold or returned to the city for increased tax base and tax revenue for the city,” Randall said.
Recently, a group approached the school board wanting to save the old building's gym, kitchen and some classroom space, and would call it the Blackhawk Activity Center.
“It's very hard to get time for gym space for kids and adults that still play in the leagues here. There's not a lot of open gym time,” the group’s president Mandi Marik said.
The group offered $5 to buy the building but asked the school to donate $50,000 to remove asbestos and demolish the unused part of the building.
Randall said that's not possible and they've set aside nearly $114,000 to demolish the entire building.
“I don't believe that they understand how big the new gym will be or the availability this will provide for the community, and you don't know those things until you have an opportunity to see it,” Randall said.
She said the new gym will be much bigger with a wood floor and will be free for the community to use. The activity center would have a fee.
After hearing two proposals Thursday, the board said going against the demolition plan would ignore the voice of the community, disappointing the activity center group.
“We're gonna regroup and take a look at some other options and go forward from there,” group vice president Matthew Berlin said.
Randall said the new school's construction is on schedule to open in when classes start in the fall.