TITONKA | Potential uses for the Titonka Middle School building are being considered as the district approaches reorganization with Algona this summer.
"Right now, the plan is to look at all the options," said Todd Schwartz, Titonka Area Economic Development Board president. "Everything's on the table right now."
Alternatives discussed during meetings with key community stakeholders include a fitness center, community/senior center, preschool/daycare, assisted/independent senior living, city office space or selling/leasing a portion to private businesses. Schwartz said the stakeholders are also exploring options for the rest of the property, such as renting out a portion of the bus barn or using the school's lot as a campground.
The middle school most recently housed students through fourth grade but that ended in May 2013 due to whole-grade sharing with Algona. Today, a preschool uses the building, which is still owned by Titonka Consolidated Schools.
FOLLOWING REORGANIZATION in July 2014, Algona Community Schools will retain ownership of the building, with its Board of Education having sole discretion about future use.
Marty Fonley, shared Titonka and Algona superintendent, has previously stated the district will not be using the middle school after the merger, other than possibly a portion of the bus barn and a room for preschool, and is interested in seeing building return to community use.
Following refurbishment and completion of a new portion of the building in 2007, the middle school remains in good condition and is wheelchair accessible. Approximately $1.7 million is still owed on tax-exempt bonds, with the last debt service payment scheduled for 2027. Payoff will still be funded by property taxes from individuals in the Titonka Consolidated School District.
Although there's a possibility another organization may purchase the building, Schwartz said it's unlikely it will sell for a significant amount.
If the city of Titonka purchased the building, grants, donations and a steady stream of revenue would be required to fund repurposing and continued use.
Schwartz said community members have expressed interest in expanding Titonka's small fitness center, currently housed in a 12 foot by 22 foot former City Hall office. It includes two treadmills, an elliptical machine, recumbent bike and free weights, but an account has been built up to purchase additional equipment.
City leaders have not made a commitment to purchasing the building, and no final decision on the building's future use is expected anytime soon.