Future of Calkins building uncertain

Funds have drained, now district faced with dire decisions

The Cortez Historic Society was given some somber news after being given some good news at its Tuesday luncheon with two Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 administrators.

Michael Canzona, chief of operations for the Re-1, began his presentation to the historical society by telling the group that Phase II of the Calkins building renovations had been completed earlier in the day, but then said there were no funds to move forward with other repairs of the building that is located at First and Beech streets.

Canzona said he thinks the school board could revisit the possibility of selling the building since it did not have the funds to renovate it to make it habitable.

He added that a good portion of the state historical preservation available funding is extremely tenuous, since much of that money is being spent for the dome at the state capitol.

He told the historical society members that Phase II included having all of the asbestos removed and installing an elevator shaft. Canzona, who attended the luncheon with board member Jack Schuenemeyer, said the district needs to prioritize where to use its funds.

“The facilities that houses our students will take the initiative over Calkins,” he said. “The Calkins building is taking a back seat.”

Most of the historical society members at Tuesday’s luncheon had attended school at Calkins and told Canzona and Schuenemeyer that they wanted to find a way to restore the building.

Canzona suggested that the society meet with the school board to ask its opinion on its members serving as an advisory committee to the board involving the Calkins building.

Canzona said he does not think the district would be on the hook for the funds it has already received from the Colorado State Historical Fund if the board did decide to sell the building.

He also said he thinks neither the school district nor anyone else who used the building would have to adhere to the original architecture of the building because that would be tough to do.

Canzona said there has been no conversation about a sale price if the building were to be put up for sale.

Some historical society members discussed forming a corporation or nonprofit to help fund the repairs for the Calkins building, but Canzona said the amount needed would be extremely high.

Schuenemeyer said the board would welcome the appearance of the historical society members to one of its meetings to listen to advice and suggestions.

“We are faced with a number of buildings that are deteriorating that have to be repaired or renovated, Schuenemeyer said. “We need to provide a safe, wholesome place for our students to learn. It is our No. 1 priority.”

When asked whether the district might bulldoze the building if there are no funds to make the necessary repairs with no prospective buyers, Canzona said the building would instead be “boarded up.”

Schuenemeyer said what the board or district is going to do with the building is unknown at this time, but added he seriously doubts the administration would ever move back into the building, which was the original plan six years ago.

He said even if the board decided to try to sell it, the real challenge would be to try to find someone with the funds to make the purchase.

Schuenemeyer said the historical society should approach the board with their suggestions and thoughts, and added the ideal time would be in a few months once the district’s budget is finalized.

Michael Maresh can be reached at michaem@cortezjournal.com