Finding a solution for Palo Christi

The former Palo Christi Elementary School.

Miner/file

The former Palo Christi Elementary School.

KINGMAN – A 1988 report by StanTech on the structural condition of Palo Christi School 1988 is still accurate as it stands, though it doesn’t include a cost estimate for asbestos abatement, Fire Chief Jake Rhoades said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to form a subcommittee with Mayor Monica Gates, Councilman Stuart Yocum and Councilwoman Jamie Scott Stehly to find a solution for future use of Palo Christi.

Council was provided information on the feasibility of acquiring the school for use by the city, possibly as a City Hall and headquarters for Kingman Fire Department, which now oversees the building department.

Some citizens suggested the school be renovated into a community arts and cultural center. That’s what the City of Las Vegas did with its historic Fifth Street School after it was used for years as city offices.

Kingman Unified School District will discuss the possible sale of the school at its board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

KUSD Superintendent Roger Jacks said the board has no intentions of seeing the building demolished.

“They’re 100 percent behind keeping the building historically the way it is and finding a financial plan for that,” he told council members.

During public comment, one woman referred to a Daily Miner story about the rehabilitation of Arnold Plaza, which was granted $120,000 for asbestos removal, and suggested the school district pursue similar grants.

Rhoades said all the asbestos is sealed in the building, including a lot of it in the tiles covered by carpet.

“Once we get into the plumbing, we do have to dig into the walls and that’s where the abatement take place,” the fire chief said.

Councilwoman Jamie Scott Stehly said the council is not in position make a decision on using the school for City Hall, and she liked what Sara Peterson had said about turning the school into an arts center.

Peterson founded Kingman Center for the Arts, and is the force behind renovating the historic Beale Street Theater.

She said the most obvious use of the school is for art classes, dances, children’s theater, band and choir.

“I don’t know if something like a building has a soul, but when I walked into that building, I felt there was a special spirit there,” Peterson said. “I think if those walls could talk, they’d say, ‘Please, let us have children, let us have music and dancing and art and theater.’”

Jacks said he thinks the school board would be in favor of that type of approach, seeking a solution that preserves the building and is financially feasible.

Councilman Travis Lingenfelter noted that other cities across the country have repurposed old schools into museums, and he’d like to the city maintain the school’s history and repurpose it for multiple uses that would benefit downtown.