A dream revealed

Published 9:09 pm Tuesday, January 27, 2009

After three years, the Thorsby Historical Committee now has a master plan and an artist’s rendering for its dream to restore the town’s old elementary school.

The committee unveiled the depiction of the renovation project at a reception Tuesday inside one of the old school’s classrooms. The group also officially received a $5,000 grant from CAWACO, which was used to pay for the rendering and the master plan.

Committee chairwoman Tracia Bussey said she’s glad officials are finally beginning to see more progress with the project.

“We finally have our dream on paper for the first time,” she said. “Now, we have something to show everyone what we can do with this building.”

Bussey said the committee’s hope for the building is to renovate the 10,000 square-foot facility and turn it into a community center complete with several meeting rooms and a large auditorium.

Currently, the project’s price tag is estimated at $1.5 million, which will be difficult to attain for a town that only has about $1 million in total tax revenues each year. Bussey said officials are looking for grants that will help pay for the projects, however.

“We’re looking more for the 80-20 matching grants than the 50-50 grants,” she said. “It’s going to be difficult, but we’re looking at anything we can do.”

Project manager Barry Falls with Grimes Architects said the first phase will be to stabilize the building. That includes installing a new roof and boarding up windows to protect them.

“The building is very sound structurally except for the roof,” Falls said. “The foundation is in very good shape.”

After the building is stabilized, Falls said the interior of the building could then be renovated.

That would include removing walls that were added after the original construction, converting existing restrooms into mechanical rooms and creating new restrooms.

The final phase would include landscaping and additional cosmetic repairs to the exterior of the building.

There is no timetable for beginning any project at the school.