DEL NORTE— In a recent interview, Rio Grande National Forest (RGNF) Deputy Forest Supervisor Tom Malecek confirmed the organization’s intentions to obtain the old Del Norte High School building. “We wanted to take this opportunity to clarify that we are moving forward with our plans to obtain and use the old high school building and are updating our plans to fit our needs. We hope to finalize paperwork and sign for the building by the end of the year,” stated Malecek.
The RGNF supervisor’s office that is currently located just outside of Monte Vista along Highway 160 has been in negotiations with the Del Norte School District and their regional office in Denver for more than a year, making plans to repurpose the building and are on their way to finalizing the plans.
“We had some regulations that we needed to work through, but our office now understands our limits, and we are making headway with plans in order to make the building work for our needs. Our intentions are to end the lease we currently have with the building we are in by signing final paperwork with the school to obtain the old high school building by the end of the year and be ready to move in by mid-2021,” continued Malecek.
According to Malecek the RGNF will need to remodel and demolish a portion of the building in order for it to meet the needs of their office. “We have regulations in place that require us to have a small footprint in all of our facilities nation-wide. It has been an effort of the National Forest Service to minimize facilities across the country for some time now and so when we gain possession of the building, we will need to cut the square footage down by half. So instead of a 30,000 square foot building, we will have 15,000 square feet to use, which is still very exciting.”Malechek explained that the RGNF architects are currently working on a draft design for the building, but that no plans have been released. “There are a lot of parts of that building that will need to be modernized and remodeled. We understand now why we can’t use the entire space. We had to look at the long-term maintenance of the building and in order to keep costs low, we are looking to remodel the structure to fit our needs and meet our regulations.”
Once final paperwork is signed with the Del Norte School District, the supervisor’s office will use the next year to finish the remodel with intentions to move in by the middle of 2021. “We are very excited about this opportunity. There will be many benefits to having the supervisor’s office in Del Norte. We are moving forward with the intention of obtaining the building. In anticipation of making it our new supervisor’s facility we just have to retro fit the building in order to meet our needs and regulations.”