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RIVERTON TO DECIDE FATE OF OLD SCHOOL

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A historic elementary school could be transformed into a City Hall and cultural center if residents approve a $4 million bond June 25.

Voters must decide whether to approve the general obligation bond that would raise property taxes to fund the renovation of the old Riverton Elementary School. City leaders project the bond will raise property taxes by about 5 percent, adding an additional $4 per month in taxes on a $100,000 house.If 50 percent of voters are in favor of the bond, the city will have the authorization it needs to proceed with the community center.

The building housed Riverton Elementary for 70 years and was purchased, along with nine surrounding acres, by the city for $220,000 last June.

City leaders contend that Riverton residents want the community center after a study in late 1995 showed 86 percent of residents questioned favored funding it.

Jan Wells, community center coordinator, said the center would provide needed space for community activities. Included in the plan is also space for art exhibits, youth activities, a museum, even wedding receptions and satellite college classrooms.

Salt Lake County is planning a new library near the proposed community center, which would nearly double the size of Riverton's library.

The building, recently added to the National Historic Register, will need updating in plumbing and electrical and mechanical systems, as well as a fire alarm and sprinkler system. The former school, at 12850 S. Redwood Road, also needs to be made earthquake safe.

City officials have been in contact with Salt Lake County law enforcement agencies about selling the current City Hall for about $800,000. City officials will have about 30 percent more space if the community center becomes the new City Hall. Wells said there would also be a lot of room for expansion, should the city's need for space continue to grow.

City Administrator William Way said the City Council is committed to new space because the city has simply outgrown its home.

"We need larger council chambers. If there is any meeting where a number of people show up, it's way too crowded," Way said.

Despite phone calls from people who both support and denounce the need for a community center, Wells said she's optimistic the center will be approved on the primary ballot.

"I still feel pretty good about it."