By Gracie Hart Brooks
With no offers on the table, it looks like the wrecking ball may be headed for Criglersville.
In October, Madison County Supervisors voted unanimously to list the property for sale for six months. The vote followed a recommendation made by the Criglersville School Property Repurposing Committee which was organized during the summer of 2018 and spent several months analyzing the property to determine its future. The group recommended selling the building first, but suggested demolishing it and creating a pavilion should a sale not materialize—and it hasn’t.
It could be that the property just isn’t worth the hassle a potential buyer would incur. The 5.83 acres comes with a host of issues—agricultural zoning which limits possible uses; its located in a flood plain through the school building has never flooded; it lacks working water and sewer systems; any improvement would require the building to meet modern building codes; there is suspected lead paint and asbestos; it’s a remote area without cell or internet service; and a historic easement exists in the front for the Blue Ridge Heritage Project’s memorial to displaced park families. The cottage on the property is also being utilized by the Madison County Historical Society for a future museum space.
It’s also not the first time a sale has been attempted. Previous boards passed on three offers—one from Shiloh Free Will Baptist Church for $100,000 in January 2007; one for a $1 shortly after from an undisclosed buyer; and one for $167,000 in August 2007. The latter was from Washington, D.C. based Craftsmen Group, Inc., a historic restoration and preservation company which was interested in using the building for its restoration work and antique storage. The property was also listed for sale in 2008 and 2009 for its then assessed value of $854,000. It’s currently assessed at $422,100.
In addition to trying to find a buyer for the property, supervisors also attempted to find a realtor to market the property. Both were unsuccessful.
“With no proposals for [selling it] or from realtors and with the April 12 deadline passed, it’s time to talk [disposal],” county administrator Jack Hobbs said. He said in addition to a large sign placed on the property, the sale was also listed in the paper and discussed with realtors.
Connie Aylor, who served on the repurposing committee, said unfortunately, it looks like demolition is the way to go.
“If no one is willing to take it and fix it so it’s usable, I guess that’s what we have to do,” she said.
Committee member Max Lacy agreed.
“The committee came up with, if we couldn’t get someone with the golden arm, demo it and create a pavilion,” he said.
Committee member Mike Fisher echoed Lacy.
“We said if we couldn’t sell it and no one wanted it, to tear it down,” he said.
Hobbs said if a proposal were to come in before the supervisors vote to move forward with demolition, the building could still be sold.
“It would be in the county’s best interest to sell it,” he said.
Like many citizens, supervisor Jonathon Weakley said he has fond memories of the building when it was a school.
“I went there as a kid,” he said. “It will be hard, it’ll be a dark day on the county, but we’ve tried. We’ve done our due diligence and [I] realize things have to go on. I wish [we] could save it.”
Supervisor Charlotte Hoffman agreed.
“We’ve done all we could do,” she said. “It’s deteriorating further. Someone is going to get hurt. I hate to see it go.”
The supervisors agreed to move forward with procurement for the demolition of the building. Committee estimates placed the project in the $250,000-300,000 range.