Basalt residents seek to turn ‘Old Brick’ schoolhouse into a community center
BASALT – A group of Basalt residents is hoping to turn the “Old Brick” school building at Basalt Elementary into a community center to save it from the wrecking ball. Roaring Fork School District Re-1 plans to vacate the building once the new Basalt Elementary building opens next year and had originally considered razing Old Brick. But with the support of the school board, Beth Mobilian and other Basalt residents plan to restore the building and hope it will host nonprofit groups, theater productions, lectures, art gallery space and other uses for the community’s benefit. Mobilian, owner of Piñóns Restaurant in Aspen, presented her proposal before the school board Tuesday night, asking that her Old Brick Founding Committee be allowed to lease the building from Re-1 for a nominal fee. She asked for a long-term lease, but board members cautioned the district may need the building again in the future. Board member Michael Bair said a population increase in Basalt might one day require the district to use Old Brick again for classes, perhaps while new classrooms are built nearby. The board agreed to support Mobilian’s plan, which would require restrictions on alcohol use in the building because the building would still be part of the Basalt Elementary School campus. Bair said details of the lease will eventually be ironed out, but couldn’t say how long that will take. But, he said, the length of the lease could grow proportionally to the amount of money and support the Old Brick Founding Committee is able to raise. The board’s support of the plan gives the Old Brick Founding Committee permission to begin fundraising for the building’s restoration and to apply to become a 501(c)3 nonprofit group. “I think it’s huge,” Bair said of the possibilities for the community center. “Where else are you going to find a place to find afternoon and evening youth activities?” He said it would be ideal as a meeting place for Basalt residents. Old Brick was built in the late 1930s and once hosted kindergarten through 12th grade. Bair said he, his mother and his children have all attended classes there. “It’s the closest you get to a little red school house,” Mobilian said.
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