When the community of Quay deeded the old Quay School, 15 miles south of Tucumcari, over to the county, they figured it would be to get grants for needed repairs of the building so it could continue to be used as a community center as it has for a number of years.
Little did they know that the deeding would open up a can of worms they would regret. While the county, under the direction of Quay County Manager Paula Chacon, was able to get a grant for $109,000 for some of the needed repairs, it also was forced to put the school building, built in 1932, on the New Mexico Historical Register of Buildings and because of that, improvements could only be made in the style of at least 50 years ago.
This proved to be a markedly more expensive and slower proposition than anyone in Quay County expected.
“I feel really bad about that too,” said Chacon.
Originally it was thought that they could put a peaked roof, new ceilings, stuccoed walls, sidewalks, new doors, new windows and have money left over to put in a heating system and it would all be done for Christmas. But because of the historical designation, that was not to be. In fact, the only part finished as of the middle of March was the new roof and it was not the less expensive type originally requested by members of the community.
And according to Chacon, she had to request extra money just to cover the original work asked for since the cost of everything was more expensive than it would have been if they would have been allowed to work with off the shelf improvement items. Custom windows for the building that will look like the originals alone will cost over $30,000. Chacon said she anticipates that the added money which the state has recently granted will just cover the overall cost of the needed repairs and nothing will be left over for any heating system as had originally been hoped. Chacon said they state has also granted the construction company an additional 20 on the building time to finish the project.
County Commissioner Jeffrey Lewalling in whose district the old Quay School building lies said it is extremely frustrating for the people of Quay and for the county commissioners when things get so tied up with “red tape.”
“We just wanted to help,” said Lewalling, “and things just got more and more complicated.”
Chacon said she is continuing to look for grants and other monies to help with the buildings heating system so that the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations missed in 2003 in the small Quay County community will not be missed in 2004.