Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Get a Look Inside the Old Redwood Valley School

Moss growing under an awning at the Redwood Valley School [All photos by Monica Huettl]

The Ukiah Unified School District Board of Trustees passed a resolution to put the abandoned Redwood Valley School up for auction to the general public at their October 9 meeting. The District has spent the past couple of years attempting to dispose of the school, deemed “surplus property,” with no sale ever being reached. 

An inspirational sign inside a long-abandoned classroom

The tour was conducted by Gabriel Sherman, Steve Barekman, and Dan Dougherty from the Ukiah Unified School District. The grounds are overgrown, and vandals and neglect have damaged the buildings. The 12.4-acre campus sits on a hill above the Russian River with a gorgeous view of Redwood Valley, alongside the planned route of the Great Redwood Trail. This is a spectacular piece of land.

The school’s old scoreboard

The School District has a web page devoted to the Redwood Valley School site. Bid documents, reports on water, septic systems, hazardous substances, and a draft Purchase and Sale Agreement are available at www.uusd.net/apps/pages/RVES

The property has two water service hookups from Redwood Valley County Water District, a 2” connection for domestic water, and a 2” connection for ag water. The Water Service Report from LACO dated January 17, 2019, determined that there is enough water supplied by the 2” domestic connection to support multi-unit dwellings. The report mentions an on-site domestic well in the southwest corner of the athletic field, but apparently, no records were found for this well, and no details are included in the report. During the tour, we were told that there was no well on the property. Redwood Valley has had a moratorium on new water service hookups since 1989. 

You can almost hear the squeak of tennis shoes on the gymnasium floor

LACO’s May 17, 2019, Wastewater Treatment Feasibility Study states that the existing septic system was installed in the 1950s, with a 10,000-gallon tank, and leach field located under the basketball/tennis courts. The existing leach field does not meet current setback requirements from groundwater and the existing domestic well. There is an area of approximately 1.5 acres that tested usable for a new septic system. There are underground communication lines in the area designated for a new system. 

The remains of a science lesson from years ago

Schutze and Associates Inc.’s Hazardous Substance Report dated August 14, 2019, found asbestos in vinyl floor tiles, mastic, and elsewhere. Lead paint and PCBs were also found. Gabriel Sherman said that asbestos can either be encapsulated (a less expensive method that seals and covers the asbestos in place), or remediated by a contractor licensed to handle asbestos. The encapsulation method cannot be used by a public school but might be approved for other uses.

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The old bus barn

The existing buildings and walkways do not meet the current Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. The hilly topography would require installing 34 switchbacks from the main buildings down to the athletic field to meet ADA requirements for a public school. Private and charter schools have different requirements and might be able to use the campus with fewer modifications.

A name index within the school kitchen

The classrooms are large, 960 square feet, and each one contains a sink. The auditorium has a beautiful stage and the gym floor is polished wood. 

The portable buildings need to be demolished, as they are full of mold and beyond repair.

A colorful classroom poster still hangs at the school

Many in Redwood Valley feel strongly that the school should be transformed into a community center, which has been discussed many times at the Redwood Valley Municipal Advisory Council meetings. Unfortunately, the County of Mendocino is looking at closing some existing parks, as the Board of Supervisors says there is no money available for park maintenance. It would take a tremendous effort for a citizen group to form a non-profit entity, and then find grants and raise funds to purchase, renovate, and provide ongoing maintenance and operations for a community center. 

The baseball field from long ago

For interested bidders:

  • Sealed bids must be received by 4:30 pm on Thursday, January 18th, 2024, and will be opened during the Board Meeting that evening 
  • The minimum required bid is $900,000 
  • There is a 1.5% commission available to the buyer’s agent 

Steve Barekman said, “People have been interested, but nobody has written a check yet.”

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  1. I was a student there 4th grade through 7th grade. (1985-1989). I hope something meaningful can be done with this property that can benefit RV as a whole. I have both found memories as well as traumatic memories from my time at RV Middle School. I shall spare you the details.

  2. I remember going there in 2004 . I loved that school so many good memories its sad to think its been 20 years since i had all those good times

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Monica Huettl
Monica Huettl
Mendocino County Resident, Annoying Horse Girl.

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