Marion School Board discusses options for Emerson elementary building

Published: Jan. 23, 2017 at 8:49 PM CST
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A soon to be vacant elementary school in Marion could become apartments for seniors.

Garling Construction presented plans to put nearly a dozen apartments on the ground floor of Emerson Elementary School. The school will be empty at the end of this school year.

Students there will go to the new Longfellow Elementary School.

The plan calls for 11 senior housing units, that would be converted from existing classrooms. There would potentially be room for office space on the first floor. Developers would also turn the gymnasium into a community space.

"Boys Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, entities of that type," President of Garling Construction Troy Pinns said.

Monday's meeting was preliminary. Garling Construction asked for six more months to determine total costs.

'"And determine what sort of benefits are out there through historic and city TIFF dollars and determine the feasibility of the project," Pinns said.

The school board reiterated nothing is final. Through public input meetings, the board found many area neighbors don't want the space to turn into apartments.

"At this point were not going to make any decisions, we're merely fact finding so we can make the best decision possible," School Board Vice President Jill Hansen said.

The district is also tossing around the idea of keeping the building.

The plan calls to keep the building until district gets a better idea of how many students are expected to come into the area.

'"The youthful movement of families back into Marion is making us look at the demands for the future. And that's why we're looking at the internal operations, maybe we don't want to give up the buildings that we have for school purposes," Superintendent Chris Dyer said.

The Superintendent says the district could potentially use it for the growing home school program. Another idea is to offer adult learning classes.

"We want to maintain what we believe to be the Marion value and the Marion way inside this historic building," Dyer said.