Archive for Thursday, June 19, 2008

City considers buying Durr house

June 19, 2008

After Robert and Virginia Durr sold their home and the 47 acres that surrounded it to Eudora USD 491, they became resigned to the idea that the 109-year-old home soon would be demolished.

But the city of Eudora is looking into the possibility of purchasing the home and transforming the homestead of three generations of Durrs into a historical museum and headquarters of the Eudora Chamber of Commerce.

The property, located at 2241 North 1400 Road, was purchased in January and will be the location of the new $27 million elementary school. The school district had planned to advertise the home and auction it off, and the buyer of the home would then have to move it off of the property.

The Durrs have until Oct. 1 to vacate the premises. However, they hope be out of the home sooner than that as they plan to move across the street to a prefabricated home that already has been delivered.

For all intents and purposes, the board would donate the house to the city. However, in order to make the contract legally binding, the city would have to pay what Eudora Interim Superintendent of Schools Don Grosdidier said would amount to about $1.

Grosdidier said the school district hopes to have a buyer for the property by Aug. 15 so that construction can move forward.

"If the city can't pull this off, we want to have some time to advertise the house to see if there are other bidders who are out there that are interested in moving the house to a different location," he said. "The last thing that anyone wants to do is demolish the house, but unfortunately, that's a real possibility."

Mayor Tom Pyle at last week's city council meeting brought up the possibility of purchasing the home, and the rest of the council decided to move forward with the process.

"It would preserve the history of Eudora, and we really don't have anything like that," Pyle said. "I want it bad, and it would be a wonderful thing for the city of Eudora."

Maintaining the history of Eudora is not lost on former history teacher Grosdidier, whose family also has deep roots within the community.

"Any time we can preserve our history, particularly locally, that's a good thing," Grosdidier said. "With that being said, we have to operate within certain economic constraints, and I understand what the city might be up against to try to pull this off. But it is our desire to help them out as much as we can."

What the city is up against are the financial and logistical issues associated with moving the home.

Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said the house would need to be moved to a location on 10th Street because moving it elsewhere would involve removing power lines. She began looking for open property Friday and will speak with house movers this week to get price estimates.

"We're going to be aggressively looking into this so that next Monday night we can reasonably discuss this with the council," Beatty said.

Beatty said a historical museum is something Eudora needs, but an office for the chamber of commerce would be just as important because it could help stimulate growth of new businesses.

"If we're going to draw and attract retail business, we'll need to have a strong chamber of commerce," she said. "Our chamber of commerce is growing and strengthening, but having a place for them to be would make them more viable."

Only about 10 percent of Eudora's tax base comes from businesses.

Beatty said there also is talk of reorganizing the 150th sesquicentennial committee to begin raising funds to buy land and move the house

Robert Durr said he would be sad to leave the home, but that the time is right.

"I was raised here and spent my whole life here, but I'm in my seventies now, and it's just too much house," he said.

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