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Published: Thursday, 2/26/2004

Gorham Fayette: New school dependent on raising $3.3M


FAYETTE - Gorham Fayette Local School District could get a new $14.6 million school if it can raise $3.3 million in little more than a year.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission last week unanimously approved giving Gorham Fayette $11.2 million if it can raise the rest.

Superintendent Dave Hankins said district leaders are asking for a new school because of fears of cancer-causing contamination from the former Fayette Tubular Products Inc. automotive parts plant about 50 yards north of the school.

In the Fayette school building, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency officials can detect trichloroethylene, which was once used as a degreaser in the plant. Levels have been in the acceptable range, but Mr. Hankins said the highest concentration might not yet have moved into the school area.

He said he hopes D.H. Holdings Corp. of Chicago, which has responsibility for Fayette Tubular clean up, will provide the $3.3 million local match for a new school. A Toledo lawyer, David Nunn, has represented the school on this issue for about a year.

Mr. Nunn said he has not yet had extensive discussions with D.H. Holdings officials. It is too early in the process to predict whether he will recommend filing a lawsuit, he said.

If such efforts would be unsuccessful, the district will ask the state legislature or voters for the local match, Mr. Hankins said. The district does not have any funds saved for such a building.

The school board is considering two or three properties in the village and one west of the village for an option to purchase, contingent upon funding. Under the plan, one new building would replace Franklin Elementary in the community of Zone and the Fayette building that houses the rest of the district s students.

Franklin Elementary was built in the 1920s with an addition in 1965. The Fayette building was built in the 1920s as well with additions in 1952, 1973, and 1998.

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