Broadway Middle School

Broadway Middle School from the air.

One document that never saw the light of day was a business plan for a potential deal to purchase Broadway Middle School from the Seaside School District.

Delivered to the park district board in February, the document had been slated for public review when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

A public comment period scheduled for March was canceled and never rescheduled. In June, board members rejected the proposal without review, tabling any discussion on the purchase for at least one year.

Acquisition of the building and property at the intersection of Broadway and U.S. Highway 101, adjacent to the Sunset Pool and facilities, would “expand the opportunity for district residents and guests to participate in recreation programs,” Skyler Archibald, executive director of the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District, wrote in the draft document.

Zoned partially residential and commercial, the 3-acre property contains the 73,000-square-foot school building, along with the Seaside Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau building and public restrooms, on land leased to the city by the school district.

The purchase could provide space for current programs and revenue streams for community programs that serve families such as after-school care, summer camp, “Start Smart” sports, the farmers market and basketball.

In February, Archibald delivered a business plan for expansion, with expense and revenue models, bond scenarios and operations analysis. The plan got left behind as COVID-19 restrictions limited public gatherings and meetings.

Community meetings were scheduled but the pandemic in March “threw everything into a bit of a blender,” Archibald said last week.

In June, citing the expense of remediation, remodeling and concerns for future district revenue, then board members Jeremy Mills and John Chapman voted to take expansion “off the plate” for a year.

Mills said utilities, manpower and rehabilitation of the middle school building would add to expenses, especially during an economic downturn to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chapman added the downside of liability and lead paint. “Broadway School is not sensible at any time,” he said.

Su Coddington voted alongside them, with Katharine Parker and Michael Hinton against the decision to put off a public dialogue on a potential purchase.

When Chapman and Mills stepped down from the board last week, it brought the option back to the table.

At that meeting, the board formally accepted the resignations of Mills and Chapman.

Coddington said she still had concerns, but would “be glad to revisit it.”

“Mr. Mills and Mr. Chapman were not interested in listening to the proposal we talked out in executive session,” Hinton said. “It did not given a fair hearing. It did have some merits that need to be reviewed. I think that we should keep the door open.”

Both Parker and Hinton sought to continue the conversation by making a motion to override the direction given to the staff by the board at the June meeting and that the executive director has authority to open a dialogue and “engage the public in a process to consider the expansion into Broadway Middle School.”

The process could start with a public survey and meeting, Archibald said, depending on the direction the board wants to go.

“We’d be happy to put together some feedback the community can share some of their thoughts whether this is a good idea or not, whether it’s a community meeting or town hall meeting, these have to be regulated,” Archibald said.

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