The First Christian Church and the city of Dodge City have reached an agreement that will lead to demolition of the former Lincoln Elementary School at 6th Avenue and Cedar Street.

First Christian Church, owners of the property, voted among their delegation with a 96% approval of the demolition to be done with the city.

According to city manager Cherise Tieben, the city has been looking for a possible roadway to make 6th Avenue southbound to Wyatt Earp more of a possibility, and with the church asking for assistance in the demolition of the building, that possibility became more realistic.

"With our Comprehensive Plan, there is a possibility of bringing 6th Avenue a connecting street down to Wyatt Earp Boulevard," Tieben said during the Monday city commission meeting. "And when we were looking at next year with Spruce Street, we had no idea what could be done with Lincoln School. It is a grand old building and should be a historic site but there has been tremendous damage done to the building and we have talked with several developers in trying to get renovation work done.

"There has been a tremendous amount of vandalism, a lot of weather damage and the roof is rolled back."

With the amount of city staff time with code enforcement issues, vagrants and calls for the police and fire department, a suggestion was made to do a connection with 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue on Spruce Street.

Therefore the city approached First Christian Church with the proposal of the demolition to get the right of way for the connection from 6th and 7th avenues.

"And this building is not on the historical buildings, correct?" Mayor Brian Delzeit asked.

He was told it was not.

"When you have a scenario where you have a grand old building and it becomes abandoned by the original owner and maintaining it, it opens up to squatters and illegal activity and unfortunately this building has probably met its demise because of that," Delzeit said.

With the 5-0 unanimous vote from the city commission, the city will put out bids to contract for the demolition.

"We tear it down but don't own it," Commissioner Kent Smoll said.

Tieben added that the agreement would give the city the authority to tear down the school on the church's behalf.

The city then will have the easement authority built in place to put in the connection road, according to Smoll.

"If the project were to take place," city civil engineer Tanner Rutschman said, "7th Avenue from Spruce Street south would turn into 6th Avenue.

"So any addresses on 7th Avenue south of Cedar Street would turn into 6th Avenue making 7th Avenue north of Spruce to two-way traffic, now widening the 6th Avenue (connection)."

Funding for the project would come from the 2020 project for construction of 6th Avenue and Soule Street.

According to Tieben, the funding will be $1.6 million for the demolition, design and construction for the combined project.

The 6th and Soule project was for $800,000 and will be moved to the new 6th/7th Avenue connection project.

"If demo costs $800,000 we will not do that," Tieben said. "We expect demo to be substantially less than that."

Because the construction of 6th Avenue and Soule Street has not begun, according to the city, it can legally allocate the funds from the Soule Street project to instead go to the proposed 6th/7th connection project with the 6th and Soule project taking place at a later time.

Since bids are out, it is unknown at this time when demolition of Lincoln School will take place.

 

To contact the writer, email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com.