School board reconsiders plan for Mary Crapo redevelopment

SWARTZ CREEK — The Swartz Creek Community Schools Board of Education is expected to resume discussions on the future of the Mary Crapo building.

After receiving several extensions on an option to purchase the structure, Communities First of Flint has failed to secure the $7 million to $10 million in funding needed to renovate the 92-year-old former high school into senior citizen housing.

Communities First has resurrected multiple shuttered schools in the City of Flint, relying largely on grants to offset the multimillion dollar costs.

The organization has had an option to purchase Mary Crapo for three years, and has received several extensions on the original option approved in September 2018.

The most recent extension expires in February.

School Superintendent Ben Mainka said Communities First was unsuccessful in its most recent round of grant applications and has one more opportunity to seek grant approval in October.

“There is a final shot in October,” Mainka told the school board last week. “If they don’t meet the funding round in October, we need to be ready to move quickly.”

After announcing in 2017 that the district would cease using Mary Crapo in its most recent incarnation as an alternative high school, preschool and Community Education venue, the school board considered various options for rebranding the building but found that asbestos abatement – necessary for reuse or demolition – was not cost effective for the district.

At that time, district officials reached out to Communities First.

The plan for senior citizen housing, with a portion of the rental units being based on income guidelines, drew outrage from some residents, particularly those who live in close proximity to the school.

School board Trustee Chuck Melki said Communities First has been “hamstringing” the district since then.

“The application (deadline) is October,” Melki said. “If they don’t put it in in October, they’re out.”

He urged his fellow board members to “stop waiting” and explore the district’s options.

“Nobody wants to take the building down,” he said, adding that the district may have no other alternative.

Melki suggested razing the structure and installing a baseball field, walking path and/or other park features.

Mainka said discussion will resume in October.