Community Members Meet to Discuss New Plan for Old Marshall School

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SACRAMENTO --

The lights are on, but no one has been able to call Marshall School their school home since 2009.

That's why Sacramentans who live near the G Street  fixture spent their Tuesday evening chatting up change.

Buy, sell, lease, trade, mixed use -- all options as the school district and the community find what might work best for their part of Sacramento.

"Quite honestly, who is going to come in and fix up an old building without an opportunity to own it.  That's why we think that someone needs to come in who has the financial ability to address the issues, return it to its former glory, and we want it to be a sustainable model too. We don't want a business to go in and close in five years," said Julie Murphy, co-chair of the Marshall School-New Era Park Neighborhood Association.

"I just hope that again we don't let this building rot away. We need to do something and have action," said Ryan Heater.

Heater's eyeing the structure as a preservationist at heart and a developer by trade.

Modern safety standards for buildings mean that it can't be a school for children again, so ...

"From a museum to public spaces to incubator spaces, they're all interesting, dynamic ideas that really fit the neighborhood and the community," said Heater.

He smiled slyly when asked what he might do with the space.

"Oh, that's a tough one," he said.

Also tough, balancing a final use that fulfills quality of life desires like art space with the basic life needs this part of the city is struggling to address.

The Marshall School debate was going on just a few feet away from an unmistakable sign of the lack of low-income housing in Sacramento -- a man wrapped in a comforter, sleeping on the sidewalk.

Newcomers to the area are just as concerned about what happens as those who remember the old life Marshall School used to lead.

"In our neighborhood, back in Wisconsin, there was an unused middle school they turned into assisted living for retired people, and it saved the school and really was a nice addition to the neighborhood," said Rick Akey, who's been in town with his wife for just a few weeks.

"We really like the energy of the area and so something that would bring additional energy into the area would certainly be great," he said.

Right now the Sacramento Unified School District is spending about $10,000 a year on basic maintenance at Marshall and getting no return on that investment.

Homeowners in the area are concerned about the trash that gets dumped around the empty building and the homeless who try to camp there.

Based on ideas offered by the community, district board members could have a proposal in hand for what to do with the old Marshall School by the end of May.