Talks continue about revising the lease for Clancy’s Old Red Schoolhouse, with the North Jefferson County Library District board signaling it’s looking into what it would take to buy the facility from Clancy School, which leases the building to Jefferson County in a $1, 99-year agreement.
The county commissioners signaled late last fall that the county would prefer not to be a lessee of the building, whose tenants include Clancy Library, Jefferson County Museum and the Public Health Department.
The commission publicly discussed its concerns with the lease the evening of Oct. 29, when about 70 people packed the Jefferson City Community Center for an otherwise routine meeting. That night, commissioners Bob Mullen and Cory Kirsch — Leonard Wortman was absent — indicated a desire to restructure the lease due to concerns County Attorney Steve Haddon had expressed about its terms.
Maddon previously told The Monitor that some lease provisions were ambiguous, while “others put responsibility for certain repairs and maintenance” upon the county’s shoulders “in essence for a building the county does not own.”
“The lease in my judgement is not in the best interest of the county,” he said at the time.
In a recent interview with The Monitor, Mullen said that Clancy School has said it would prefer not to be included in any revised lease, and that the North Jefferson County Library District board has indicated it might consider assuming ownership of the building.
Jane Lee Hamman, chair of the District board, wrote in an email to The Monitor that “trustees are busy gathering information to be able to seriously consider whether to present a formal offer to buy the Clancy Old Red Schoolhouse.”
At the Oct. 29 commission meeting, Mullen and Kirsch both explained that the county signed on as a lessee to make insurance more affordable for the library.
“Slowly [the county’s involvement has] just evolved, and it’s needed to be re-tweaked,” Mullen told the crowd. “What we have going on in Clancy is unique. If we could figure out a way to do that, I would love to see the library probably be the principal lessee of the building, and not the county. That’s the only change I’m really interested in seeing.”
In his recent interview with The Monitor, Mullen said Haddon had not yet set to work redrafting the lease, waiting for determination of what parties would be involved.
He also indicated that the county would likely continue to support the facility — “I think we’ve always maintained all along that we would continue to be a financial partner of some kind, just like we are in every community” — and that it wasn’t interested in disrupting use of the facility.
“In the end, I suppose if we don’t get out of [the lease], we don’t get out of it,” he said. “And I think the last thing that’s going to happen is this building is closed down. It’s too important to the community.”