Red Bank Commission is holding a special called meeting to gather public opinion on whether the city should save the old Red Bank Middle School gym and auditorium buildings. Red Bank citizens are encouraged to attend the meeting at City Hall Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m.
"We want a lot of input, because this is a big decision," said Commissioner Ken Welch.
The city originally planned to build a new City Hall on the former RBMS property and has already spent taxpayer funds to have an architect draw up plans for the new 6,000-square-foot facility. But citizens wanting to preserve the "old Red Bank" have since expressed an interest in salvaging the existing buildings.
Commissioners have until Nov. 1 to decide if the buildings will stay or go, said Mayor Monty Millard.
A tour of the buildings was recently organized by the city in order for citizens to observe the conditions inside. Among those who participated was longtime Red Bank resident Bill Smith.
"I would love to see y'all do it, but I understand the expense of it," said Smith, an RBHS alum. "I remember what Red Bank used to be, and that's what I want to see it become."
Millard said he is concerned the buildings will be a money pit. The city will be responsible for the removal of asbestos from the two buildings and environmental remediation may also be necessary due to a gas station that was once located nearby, he said.
Vice Mayor John Roberts said the buildings, the oldest portion of which opened in 1938, are not old enough to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, which would allow for more options in grant funding.
If the city decides not to keep the buildings, Millard pointed out that it still has a year and a half to decide what will be put there.
Located in the heart of Red Bank, the property has the potential to be developed in a variety of ways. The decision to leave the buildings on the property will likely affect developers' interest, he said.
"Red Bank's future depends on the development of this property," said Commissioner Ruth Jeno. "What we need to look at is the bottom line."