Getting it straight in Marble | AspenTimes.com

Getting it straight in Marble

Bettie Lou Gilbert’s letter appearing recently in the Valley Journal titled “Some Marble Charter School history” contains a number of inaccuracies that are contributing to the current animosity in Marble.

One inaccuracy is that the Gunnison Watershed School District (GWSD) deeded the school building to the Marble Historical Society (MHS) for $1, and stipulated “the property must always be used for the community or it would revert to the school district.”

According to the Special Warranty Deed recorded in Gunnison County, the building will revert from the MHS to the GWSD if it is used for other than a governmental or tax-exempt purpose. Community use is not stipulated or required.

Another inaccuracy is that in return for providing “over $300,000 in grants, loans and in-kind donations to renovate the building,” a 50-year lease for $1 a year was required by the Colorado Historical Society (CHS) to guarantee the survival of the school.

The CHS provides grants and loans for the restoration of historical buildings, not for the construction or renovation of charter schools. The CHS has no interest one way or the other in the long-term viability of the Marble Charter School (MCS).

In fact, a rent-paying tenant is preferable as a means of ensuring a source of annual revenue for building maintenance and upkeep. There is no requirement for a 50-year lease.

Recommended Stories For You

The third inaccuracy is the statement that an agreement signed in 2000 was “essentially a continuation of the past lease” signed by Wayne Brown, who headed the MHS until 1998. The implication is that the 50-year term was already in place when the new agreement was signed in 2000.

Actually, the only signed lease in existence is dated 1995, signed by Wayne Brown. The term of that lease is three years, not 50 years. The only document that refers to a term of 50 years is an uncompleted agreement signed by Ms. Gilbert in 2000.

The 2000 agreement refers to an accompanying lease from the same date. After six months of searching all the files of the GWSD, the MCS and the MHS, no one has been able to produce a signed and executed copy of “that certain business lease” from 2000.

Finally, Ms. Gilbert states that she is offended by what she considers allegations of impropriety when the MHS board approved and signed the 2000 agreement with the MCS. In 2000, the MHS board was comprised of six members, two of whom also served on the MCS board, two of whom were sisters-in-law, and five of whom were then and remain today close friends.

This was not an “arms-length” transaction. It is a fact that the MHS was without legal representation in these negotiations, while the MCS retained legal counsel. This was a one-sided transaction for the primary benefit of the MCS.

The issue is not a matter of who supports the school, but rather who subsidizes it. The MHS believes its mission is about protecting and preserving Marble history, and not about serving as a funding source for the Marble Charter School, which is adequately funded by taxpayer dollars through the GWSD.

Tom Williams

president

Marble Historical Society

Go back to article