Durango School District 9-R agreed Tuesday to enter negotiations with the city of Durango to find a land swap that would preserve Buckley Park.
The school board voted 4-0 to accept a memorandum of understanding with the city to find an equitable land swap by May 1, 2021.
The swap would transfer ownership of Buckley Park from 9-R to the city in exchange for an equally valued city-owned parcel or parcels being transferred to the school district.
“Past board members have said they have no interest in developing, no interest in selling Buckley Park, but we do have a fiduciary duty to the district. We can’t just give it away either,” said school board member Mick Souder.
One example cited at Tuesday’s school board meeting is swapping Buckley Park for Fanto Park, which is just south of Park Elementary School and currently doubles as a school yard.
9-R has listed its central office campus for sale.
The central office campus includes the administration building, the old, historic Durango High School, built in 1916 and opened in 1917, just before the outbreak of World War I.
The central office campus also includes the building that houses Big Picture High School and Buckley Park.
Durango Assistant City Manager Kevin Hall told The Durango Herald in November that the city and 9-R have begun looking at possible land swaps.
John Wells, broker-owner of The Wells Group, is serving as the local partner with the Denver office of CBRE, Coldwell Banker’s commercial real estate brokerage arm, to market the 4.3-acre property.
Wells has said real-estate agents are aware of the property’s history and the intention of splitting off the 1.1-acre park from the rest of the property before a final sale is made.
The unique nature of the property, with a historic building that must be protected, makes it difficult to determine how fast the central office campus might be sold.
Wells said the sale could come in a month or it could take several years to sell.
After the central office sells, 9-R administrators will move into spare offices now available within the district’s schools.