Because of potential contamination problems at the old Ray Starn Auto Body Shop, the Stanislaus County Office of Education no longer is considering buying that property at 431 10th St. for a meeting and event center. Future street widening nearby also was a factor in the decision, according to Assistant Superintendent Sue Rich.
We would suggest this creates an opportunity for the city of Modesto, which is still trying to lure more users to Modesto Centre Plaza.
The Office of Education would surely qualify for the nonprofit rate and perhaps a further discount for ongoing use.
The county schools owns the Martin Petersen Event Center, across 12th Street from the main building, but it is frequently booked. Administrators say they need additional space for teacher training sessions, plus practice and operations space for the Youth Entertainment Stage (YES) Company.
The county schools also rents space from Stanislaus County a separate government organization at its former location in what is left of the old County Center III, at Scenic Drive and Oakdale Road.
The schools people say they are spending about $163,400 a year to rent space from other government entities, churches, etc. They estimate that the Starn project, including additional land for parking and a major renovation, at $4.5 million. Using those numbers, the project would pencil out over 27 years.
As we said in our earlier editorial on this subject, we hate to see convenience trump efficiency when it comes to spending the public's money no matter which local agency is involved.
We urge city and county Office of Education leaders to see if they can work out an agreement that would satisfy both their needs.