Tue, Jun 25, 2019
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Willapa Harbor Herald • Town Crier
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Toledo looking to community for input on VFW building

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The Toledo School Board is continuing to discuss options for the future of the former VFW building on Jackson Hwy. after the facility reverted back to the district when VFW Post 3429 disbanded May 31.

A warranty deed for the building had been sold to the VFW in 1947 for $1, granting ownership to the VFW as long as they remained, but District Superintendent Sharon Bower said modern legal options are not as simple, and retaining the facility may place an unnecessary financial burden on the district.

“If we wanted to lease that property…we would still have to carry all the insurance, even though the people leasing it would have to carry insurance, too,” she said Thursday during the board’s regular meeting.

While it was reported in April the Toledo Lions Club had expressed an interest in leasing the facility, Bower said Thursday she has been advised by the district’s legal counsel it would be best to surplus and sell the property to an interested individual or community group rather than pursue a lease, though such a sale would have to be granted to whomever was the highest bidder, and for no less than 90 percent of the appraised value of the property, according to Bower, which has been assessed at $87,000, according to county tax records.

“I’m not going to recommend that you surplus land, ever, because land is hard to come by,” advised Bower, noting, “Why would you give up something that could be equity?”

She said another option would be to demolish the building and retain the land, stating the district could donate the structure to Lewis County Fire District 2 for use in one of their live fire exercises. But she acknowledged this would not be preferable if the community was in support of keeping the building, saying she was unsure how culturally significant the facility currently is to local residents.

“I don’t know what the sentiment of that building is in our community,” she said, with the board stating it would be their desire to seek out community input before making such a decision.

When asked what it would cost to update the building for use as a school facility, Bower said the expense would be “hundreds of thousands of dollars” and not feasible for the district at this time.

When it was recommended the building could be preserved as a historical site, Bower said that would still require a capital investment and regular upkeep, adding grants and other such funding sources are not as available as they used to be.

Bower did note, whatever is decided, it would not be advisable for the building to remain unused for a prolonged period of time, as the potential for vandalism, varmints and other liabilities would increase.

The board said they would like to continue exploring options including the community interest in preserving the building, as well as the possibility of selling the building materials to a reclamation company if such an interest exists.

Bower said the future of the facility is not a time-sensitive issue and the board could wait to make a decision until a future meeting.

“I think we really need to think about a strategic way to get feedback about what that building means to the community,” she said, stating the district could mail out a survey with one of their upcoming regular newsletters.

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