Jackson City Council discusses vacant school buildings

JACKSON, Tenn. — Jackson City Council members weighed in Tuesday on what to do with now-vacant school buildings shut down as part of the Vision 2020 plan.

jcm“I think the city’s in a no-win situation,” Councilman Randy Wallace said.

“The county is already making plans for their buildings that are no longer schools,” Councilman Harvey Buchanan said. “The city needs to do the same.”

Buchanan said Lane College, businesses and civic organizations all expressed interest in the old Jackson Central-Merry High School building. “We don’t want to see an empty building on a main street,” Buchanan said.

Jackson City Attorney Lewis Cobb said the school system gets to use the property as long as it wants. “If they don’t need it, they can sell it and keep the money or they can return it to the city,” he said.

If the city gets the property and has to demolish it, Mayor Jerry Gist said the city could have to pay the bill. “It’s not exactly a good agreement for the city,” Gist said.

Wallace said the council needs to see what it can do to deed the property over to the county or the school system so the city is not involved. “If the school department’s going to have the custody over the buildings they need to have ownership of the buildings,” Wallace said.

Cobb said the buildings belong to the school system as long as they are being used for educational purposes.

School board members are scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. Sept. 6.

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