LKSD in negotiations to takeover old armory gym

by Mark Arehart on March 27, 2013

For months the fate of the Armory, which has one of the only gyms in city, has been up in the air. The National Guard has said it will demolish the building if it cannot sell or lease it away.

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LKSD, which already uses the gym for its students, has stepped in to try and take over the building.

But the land the armory sits on still belongs to the city.

At last night’s meeting, the council discussed selling the land to LKSD for a nominal amount.

City Manager Lee Foley said the possible deal “satisfies all requirements. It allows the school board to move forward and use the building like they have to do—an expanded version. It will absolve the city from any responsibility to demolish the building or be involved with the funding involved in that. It will allow entities out in the community that want to use the gym to negotiate directly with LKSD to gain access when they can. It turns out to be a win, win for the community.”

One of the biggest issues with the armory has been the eventual demolition, which is estimated to be around $6 million.

LKSD Superintendent Gary Baldwin said the National Guard will absolve itself of any responsibility for the Armory’s demolition when it hands over the building to the district.

“And we understand that. We understand that that puts us on the hook if we’re able to work this out,” he said.

Baldwin said he estimates the building could be used as a gym for the next two decades, and not taking it would leave many students without valuable gym space.

The big question then is how the school district would pay for the buildings eventual and costly demolition?

Baldwin said the district will go to the legislature for state funding.

Other than student use, the Armory has historically been a place for community open gyms and basketball leagues, but in the past year the National Guard has closed the doors on those groups.

Baldwin said the district would consider opening it back up to the community if they gain control of the building and the land.

“The first priority is for student use both in school and for student activity programs. But beyond that we would be willing to allow community use in the buildings as in our other gyms. It would just add one more gym to the mix because the ones that exist are pretty busy all the time.”

Council directed the city attorney to draft up an agreement of sale for the land to be reviewed at the next council meeting.

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