After the Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted to pay $100,000 to buy the old, tornado-damaged Erwin Montessori school on East Bessemer Avenue in Greensboro, the Rhino Times asked the commissioners how they planned to use it.
The answer was, essentially, “We have no idea.”
The commissioners weren’t being coy. They weren’t playing their cards close to their chest because they weren’t ready to publicly reveal their plans. Instead, they were telling the truth. It’s anyone’s guess.
When the board first discussed buying the property earlier this year before pulling the trigger on the purchase at the board’s Thursday, Oct. 19 meeting, they talked about perhaps using it to help the homeless or to help rehab drug addicts.
However, after the commissioners voted to buy the building, a string of possible uses were offered.
One intriguing possibility: A skating rink.
When Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston was asked if the county commissioners were really seriously considering putting a skating rink at the location, he said that was indeed one real possibility.
“Maybe,” he said of that proposal.
Other suggestions Alston gave include a recreation center, a community center, a Black Farmer’s Market, retail shops, apartments – and several other purposes that Guilford County government doesn’t usually get involved with.
While the commissioners don’t have any idea how they are going to use the old school, Alston said that they are going to take input from those who live near the damaged school and the nine acres of land it sits on and, after hearing what the community has to say, be guided by that.
The Rhino Times can’t remember a time this century when the board has purchased a property without having established a use for it. This building is in bad need of repair. It has sat idle since being hit by a tornado five years ago.
While the board has no idea how the Erwin Montessori school will be used, the commissioners do know for sure how it won’t be used. Commissioner Frank Jones told the Rhino Times that the building will definitely not be turned into a homeless shelter.