BEDFORD Two years ago, water pouring in from a leaky roof severely damaged the Old Bedford School, once a popular venue for weddings, concerts and other events.
The building is now structurally unsound because of the water damage, according to city officials, and council members are pushing for a plan to fix the building and determine its future as a destination for performing arts and other events that generate revenue for Bedford.
“I am in my 70s, and I’m tired of visioning,” Councilman Roy Turner said during the March 27 meeting. “I want to see some dirt moving.”
Turner and council member Michael Boyter asked for a discussion to start planning for the future of the building, which dates to 1915.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to move forward with the Old Bedford School because of Phase Next,” the $70 million bond package to improve the aging park, Boyter said.
On April 24, the council will vote on bids to repair the roof, estimated to cost over $1 million.
Other expensive repairs are needed, such as replacing doors and air-conditioning units on the first floor, City Manager Brian Bosshardt said.
“It takes some money to maintain this treasure in the community,” he said.
The building opened in 1969, when it was turned into a garage and maintenance facility, inchich. In 1991 it was again almost destroyed by fire.
But ever since, the Old Bedford School has been a gathering place for weddings and concerts.
Boyter said he wants to look at using the former school as a performing arts center.
“We are at a unique point in time where we can create a vision,” Boyter said. “I would hate the thought that residents aren’t getting the value for that site if we continue using it for the same thing.
“This is going to enhance our town and not be a money drain. We can do better.”