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S. Jordan considers purchase of school

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SOUTH JORDAN — While there may be no place like home, many are homeless out here.

Groups, that is. The question is, are there enough of them to fill a school building? It's an issue the city is seriously considering.

Right now, there's no place for the senior citizens, members of the arts council or the city's historic preservation committee to meet that they can call their own.

And using the current City Hall is like a 250-pound man trying to stuff himself into a pair of size 32 pants: it just doesn't fit because there isn't any room.

South Jordan City Manager Rick Horst said the lack of community meeting space is forcing the arts council to do rehearsals at the fire station and members of the historic preservation committee to store artifacts in basements and bedrooms.

The city has hired a constable and an accountant, but has no office space for them. Space for records is so bad that South Jordan leases a storage unit in West Jordan to keep many of its records.

"There's no question there is a need," Horst said. "The question is, how do we fulfill that need and do it in the most economically feasible manner possible?"

What is questioned is a proposal to turn South Jordan Elementary at 1300 West and 10400 South into a new city hall that could also serve as a community center.

That issue was to get an airing Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the school. City officials, an outside engineering firm and a host of others will be on hand to present options.

Many favor purchasing South Jordan Elementary from Jordan School District because the planned expansion of 10400th South will thrust the school into a high-traffic area.

Although the transportation plan calls for building a pedestrian walkway that would span the busy street, some prefer the school simply move to a safer location.

The arts council likes the fact that the school comes complete with an auditorium and stage for the presentation of shows, while the senior citizens are keen on the idea of a facility with a good-sized kitchen already in place.

The building also offers plenty of storage space and rooms for offices for city officials.

What becomes problematic is the result of an independent engineering study that questions the economic viability of making the building structurally sound.

While stressing that the school and an addition are not dangerous, according to building code definitions, the study said it would cost $500,000 to retrofit the building to make it earthquake-resistant.

The study concluded that to bring the structure to 100 percent compliance with the requirements of building codes may be "economically unfeasible and practically impossible."

But the engineer, Ron Reavley, also added that the buildings could be strengthened so they don't collapse and that the school is not unlike many structures across the county that aren't in full compliance with building codes.

The city has toyed with the idea over the past two years of purchasing the school from Jordan School District, making payments over a three year-period.

Jeanne Jackman attended a discussion last week on the school proposal and says she believes the city buying the school is "win-win" for everyone.

A former member of the city's long-range planning committee and arts council, Jackman said it's important that the community groups have a good place to meet and that school children remain safe.

Jackman now belongs to the city's historical preservation committee and wantsto save a 1929 building that remains on the site.

"We really want to preserve that and put in a museum there."

Day concedes the nostalgic value of the building, but not from the district's point of view.

"Historically, it means a lot to people in that area. If we stay on campus, we would take it down. From the district's point of view, we don't need it."

E-MAIL: amyjoi@desnews.com