EUREKA COUNCIL PUTS JEFFERSON SCHOOL PURCHASE ON HOLD
The newly elected Eureka City Council is putting the brakes to the previous council's decision to buy the vacant Jefferson Elementary School site. The council voted 3 to 1 with hold-over councilwoman Linda Atkins the lone dissenter to stop the purchase process until other options can be explored. New Council member Mike Newman requested the reconsideration of the Jefferson deal because he said he was concerned the city did not have the necessary funds to renovate and maintain the property. Newman suggested the city consider talking again with the College of the Redwoods which had previously expressed an interest in buying Jefferson but withdrew in the face of community opposition. Newman suggested perhaps a compromise between residents and CR could be worked out. The other new members to the council, Marian Brady and Lance Madsen said they wanted more informaton on potential tenants and a more detailed business plan for the site. Several members of the public spoke at the meeting urging the council to continue moving forward with the purchase. Jefferson School Site Committee member Heidi Benzonelli said the group has a plan to use the facility in a way that would generate a positive cash flow for the city while eliminating blight and revitalizing the neighborhood, "these are the things that redevelopment money is supposed to do" Benzonelli told the council. City Manager David Tyson said he would continue working to complete escrow on the Jefferson site but would not close on the deal without a further go-ahead from the council. Tyson said he would also update the strategic plan for the site, contact potential tenants and talk to CR about Jefferson School.