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Published: Thursday, 2/28/2008

Eastwood Local set to sell former school

BY CHAUNCEY ALCORN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

PEMBERVILLE, Ohio - The Eastwood Local school board will take the first steps tonight toward selling the former Lemoyne Elementary School.

The building is on U.S. 20 near the entrance ramp for State Rt. 420 in Wood County's Troy Township.

Superintendent Brent Welker said the district was approached in the fall by potential buyers interested in turning the estimated 30,000 to 50,000-square-foot building into a "post-secondary education training" facility.

He said the potential buyers likely will not be announced before the building's sale goes through.

The board will meet at 7:15 p.m. at the district's office in Pemberville to consider a resolution declaring the building is "no longer needed for school purposes," Mr. Welker said Tuesday in a districtwide e-mail.

Board member Denis Helm said selling the building is a "win-win situation" for the district. "We can have a very credible tenant in the building, which will increase the tax base and they'll take good care of the building," he said.

Mr. Welker said the potential buyers have been meeting with architects, building inspectors, and school officials since the fall to discuss the cost of renovations necessary to make the former elementary school meet their needs.

The school district had the Lemoyne building appraised Feb. 19, but the results are not yet available, he said.

"Once the board approves the resolution, we will be free to sell the building and surrounding land at a public auction," he said.

The superintendent said the board is legally obligated to put the building up for auction, but is also allowed to refuse a bid.

He said there are a number of reasons the board would refuse a bid, including price and the potential use of the building. "The board could refuse a bid to keep the building from becoming a blight," he said.

The building has been vacant since June, but Mr. Helm said district taxpayers are spending nearly $20,000 annually to maintain it, much of which goes to heat the structure.

Mr. Welker said the building's temperature is kept between 55 and 58 degrees to keep it from deteriorating.

The building also is used for storage, and electricity is used for the building's alarm system. The district also pays for insurance for the building.

Mr. Welker said if it isn't sold in the next one to two years, the district will have to pay to put on a new roof. The cost for that is estimated at $30,000, he said.

The board decided in 2006 to close the school because the district had enough room in its other three elementary buildings to accommodate its estimated 140-member student body.

"I think we're being responsible, being that we don't want the building to fall into disrepair," Mr. Helm said. "If we have a buyer interested in maintaining and improving it, it's a benefit to the district and the rest of the area."



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