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District learns options for clearing a path to sale of old school


The Grand Coulee Dam School District met with Grand Coulee’s planning commission Feb. 15 and received first hand some of the options it faces in selling the Center School property.

Superintendent Paul Turner stated late last week that the meeting outlined potential roadways to the zoning process.

First, if a potential buyer presents a plan that the commission members approve of, it would be possible to get a conditional-use permit.

That process would require the city to hire, at the district’s expense, a lawyer to conduct a public hearing to review the request for a conditional-use permit. If allowed, it wouldn’t, in and of itself, change the zoning, but would allow a developer to proceed with his plan.

Turner stated that he wanted “the school district to get out of the real estate business.” Commission member David Tylor agreed, and asked, “How can we help the district sell its property?”

Center School ceased being a school three years ago when the district completed its new building and campus in Coulee Dam. The former school has 31,000 square feet on two floors and sits on 7.3 acres of property.

Since Center School closed, there have been a number of acts of vandalism at the school. All the windows on the rear of the building have been boarded up after vandals had smashed them, entered the building and thrown paint all over several rooms.

A second option for the school district would be to have the city’s comprehensive plan amended. This would take longer and potentially be more expensive, according to Grand Coulee’s planner, R.J. Lott from SCJ Alliance in Wenatchee.

The building and property is currently zoned R-1 for single-family residences. The district has researched changing this zoning to R-3, which would permit a buyer to have some forms of retail and multiple family dwellings.

The district purchased the property from the Continental Land Company in 2013 for $155,000. The property has been appraised at $190,000.

Twice the district has tried to offer the property for sale through bid offerings. No one bid on it either time. Prospective buyers were turned off because they did not know how the property might be re-zoned. Added to any buyer’s considerations will be the fact that if the inside of Center School were to be disturbed there would be the problem of asbestos abatement.

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