Vacant Gunn School Future Uncertain

Maureen Wurtz

COUNCIL BLUFFS (KPTM)- What to do with an old school property in Council Bluffs, that's what neighbors and the city are debating.

Gunn Elementary School closed May 2011, and the building has been vacant ever since.

"Saving the school is an important part of (Council Bluffs's) history," said Michaela Morrissey, a former student.

Gunn School welcomed students for more than 80 years, and now caution tape keeps them away.

That's why the Council Bluffs City Council is considering a proposal that would tear down the school and replace it with low-income apartments for elderly people.

Some neighbors are worried a large apartment would cast a shadow over the whole neighborhood. "I'm not opposed to them tearing it down, I'm just opposed to putting apartments over there," said Orba Zinger.

Zinger's house backs right up to the vacant school. She said she's lived there for 15 years.

"It's kind of got some character to it," said Zinger. "I'd like to see them do something to it that would kind of go with the neighborhood."

Some suggestions out there are single-family homes, an art school, a park, and an administration building. If the Council Bluffs Community School district was to tear down the building, it would cost $292,200, according to Councilman Matt Walsh.

"I would love to see an elderly facility put in here," said Rosemarie Henry. Henry walks her dog Ally to the school grounds every day. She also takes care of four elderly family members. "There's no place in Council Bluffs for him to stay."

People can't seem to agree on what should be done with the Gunn School, but one thing they all agree on, if the building sits there for much longer, it'll become a trouble spot for the neighborhood.

"It'll just be open for vandalism and for young kids to take advantage of nobody being around," said Morrissey.

The Council will decide Monday whether or not to approve the apartment complex or postpone the decision.