Long overdue decision: scrap Treasure Mountain, build a better school | ParkRecord.com

Long overdue decision: scrap Treasure Mountain, build a better school

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We have all faced similar tipping points like when to park the old car at the junkyard and buy a new one, or when to quit calling the repairman and cough up the money for a new refrigerator. The Park City Board of Education recently came to the same fork in the road and is moving in the right direction. Members recently decided to look into demolishing Treasure Mountain Junior High School and replacing it with a whole new facility.

In most cases we prefer the restore-and-reuse approach, especially when using public money, but in the case of this problem plagued facility, we are ready to call it quits.

The low slung, dark and dank middle school quarters on Kearns Boulevard have been a recurring sinkhole for expensive repairs. Problems surfaced soon after the school opened in the early 1980s. There were roof leaks, alarm system failures, and several staff members, including the school’s principal, complained of symptoms of what was then referred to as "sick building syndrome."

Then there was the snowstorm that brought down the roof over the cafeteria and a $5.6 million remodel that went half a million dollars over budget when the contractors found unanticipated structural flaws and contaminated soils.

Let’s face it: despite three name changes and the best efforts of a succession of contractors, the building is a red herring.

School facility design has come a long way from the days of kivas and traditional libraries and Treasure Mountain’s is so out of date a remodel would be astronomically expensive. Even then, the ghosts of its sick-building victims would still haunt the halls.

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The board’s decision is especially laudable in light of the direction board members had been previously considering: building a $5.5 million facility for a relatively small professional program at the high school. The PCCAPS building is still on the horizon, but addressing Treasure Mountain’s aging and inadequate structure has taken its rightful place at the top of the district’s priority list.

Building a new school to support all of Park City’s junior high schoolers as they transition from children to young adults is a much more worthwhile investment. Stay tuned for the details as the district hammers out a more detailed plan for the facility and how to fund it.