By Bill Hensley
Sept. 22, 2014. Former Banner Elk mayor Deka Tate is excited about the town buying the old Banner Elk Elementary School. The town has been given the opportunity to purchase the property for $1 million. The town would take over the building and grounds on Oct. l.
“This is one of the best things to ever happen to our community,” the ex-town official said recently. “It will be a tremendous boost to the local economy, and we need that badly. I see a golden opportunity here for outstanding growth and development. The potential for success is limitless.”
Tate predicted that the old school site could produce a variety of stores, shops, offices, meeting space, a gym, and perhaps a library. “The possibilities are unlimited,” she said. “I just hope the community will support the project to its fullest.”
She said that town leaders are anxious to hear from residents about their thoughts and concerns.
Spencer Robbins, a vice president of Elk River Realty and a longtime area leader, said that he envisions the old school as an arts center.
“Our members and the many tourists who come here are genuinely interested in mountain lore and products,” he said. “Based on the popularity of the many arts and crafts shows that occupy the school grounds on week ends, it is obvious that local products are in demand. I think we should continue to capitalize on this.”
Built in 1940 by the WPA, the 27,120 square foot building sits on a 5.3 acre tract. There is a large green space in front that faces the town’s main street. It adjoins the spacious Tate/Evans park in the rear.
“I think there is something here for everyone,” Tate concluded. “This is the Godsend we have been waiting for. Now we should get together and make it work.”
The Banner Elk Town Council will hold a public hearing on Monday, Sept. 22, at 6 p.m. regarding the proposed financing and contract to purchase the old school at Town Hall.
For more information on this topic, click here.