By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
FLINT, MI (WNEM) -
After more than an hour of discussion and debate Wednesday night, Flint School Board members sold the Sarvis Center and Central Kitchen for $150,000.
"If we had not sold it, it would have been the administration's recommendation to close the building," Interim Superintendent Larry Watkins told TV5 after Wednesday night's meeting.
The Sarvis Center is used for conferences and meetings, but the price of maintaining the building became a bear for the struggling district. Watkins says since 2011, the building cost the district more than $750,000 to run it, and with the district staring at a $15.8-million budget deficit, board members agreed the building had to go.
"We cannot afford this building. That's the bottom line. We cannot afford this building," said board member Ella Greene-Moton.
The Flint Cultural Center Corporation bought the building. They put in the $150,000 bid earlier this month. But some residents stood up at Wednesday's meeting, concerned the price is too low and that others should have been allowed to bid on it.
"You can't make me believe that the two buildings aren't worth more than the $150,000," said Flint resident A.C. Dumas.
"And you want to give it away? There's something wrong with that," said another Flint resident during the public comment period.
But some board members said when the offer came in earlier this month, they made a public announcement of the possible sale. They also said at the meeting there was one other interested buyer, but said Flint Cultural Center Corporation's offer was the best.
The corporation doesn't have plans for the center yet.
"We're a very lean organization, and it was what we could afford. As someone who lives in Flint, I would have appreciated paying more, but we just couldn't, so this was our offer," said D.J. Trela, chairman of the Flint Cultural Center Corporation.
Watkins said he believes the sale of the building will free up money and will help cut into the district's budget deficit.
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