The future of an old school in New Harmony, Ind. remains a mystery this week. Town Council postponed a decision on its future during a packed meeting Tuesday morning.
The school closed in 2012 after costs became too much for New Harmony to bear. Council president Alvin Blaylock says the town has tried on and off since 2013 to find a new use for the building and property.
“I think it needs to remain as a building and something the community would be proud of and could possibly use,” Baylock said.
The town has accepted six bids, but they still don’t know what it’ll become. It wasn’t a requirement of the bid, and most bidders didn’t include their plans.
Bids range from $10,000 to $125,000. Council can choose the highest, or best, bid. The interpretation of “best” is up to council.
The hold-up for council is only a couple have outlined their plans.
The five-member council tabled a decision to consider an in-depth study inside and out. They hope more info will help bidders to better know how to use the building and land.
Jeremy Efroymson is spearheading the effort to study the building. He doesn’t have a stake in any bid, he said he just wants to help.
“Right now, no one really knows the condition the school is in,” he said. “We can have a really solid estimate on how much that’s going to cost.”
Tom Guggenheim submitted a bid to build a tree nursery.
“We didn’t really want to see any industry go in there,” Guggenheim said. “Something that was really compatible with what the mission of this town is, which is a great place to live and attract visitors.”
Efroymson said he only wants what is best for the town. “My preference would be they saved the school building,” he added.
What comes next is anybody’s guess. Town Council will meet again next month to reconsider the bids and the study. Blaylock couldn’t say if any decisions would be made.
“The community is behind doing something great, and that’s a great thing,” said Blaylock.
There is some old-fashioned small-town love for this timeworn building that helped raise them. Now these people feel it’s their turn to do the same.