Custer Elementary Building will turn into a community center, how? remains uncertain

(Scarlett Lisjak)
Updated: Sep. 11, 2021 at 12:00 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The elementary school in Custer has been on the minds of city officials and residents for years, the building was turned over to the city in 2012 with the expectation it would be turned into a community center. However, a series of bumps in the road have put that dream on hold.

Built in the 1930′s, 1950′s and 1980′s, the Custer Elementary Building is a mix of different eras, Custer City Council Member, Peg Ryan says when you renovate old buildings it can be like opening up a can of worms, “You know that if you start to get into doing renovations you always find things you didn’t know were there. Every time we went a little further in the process stuff appeared that no one was prepared to deal with.”

One of the things the city was not prepared for? The 5 million dollar renovation costs, “we couldn’t accept that, it was too much money, too many additional potential problems, everywhere along the way there were so many problems that kept popping up we could not expect that wasn’t going to happen again,” Ryan said.

And then, another unexpected turn of events, “there was a fire, and it was a vandalism event and the fire changed everything, because it rendered that one part of the building that was being used unusable,” Ryan said.

Ryan adds with the community out of a recreational space, the City had to go back to the drawing board, “it just seems to make more sense at this point although we have not finally decided on this, but we are looking into the possibility of just getting rid of the building and creating new construction for the needs that we have.”

Within the next month Ryan says she hopes to have an estimate on the cost of the new construction, so that the City can make their final decision. In the meantime the halls will be filled with residents at the public hearings waiting to find out what the future of the Elementary school building will be.

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