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Published: Sunday, 4/24/2011

Council to review proposal to buy part of Libbey High

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Libbey High School. Libbey High School.
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The Bell administration has offered a plan to purchase part of the shuttered Libbey High School, potentially saving at least some of it from a wrecking ball or simply falling into decay.

Toledo City Council on Tuesday will review legislation that authorizes a development agreement for the city to buy the school’s fieldhouse, Skill Center, and football stadium, but not the 80-year-old main school that looms over Western Avenue. The price has not yet been negotiated, officials on both sides of the deal said Saturday.

“The purpose of this would be for use as a community center,” said Jen Sorgenfrei, Mayor Mike Bell’s spokesman. “There are multiple individuals and community organizations who feel there is a need for a community rally point in that neighborhood, and that there are viable uses for the facilities even though the population for a full high school is no longer in that area of the city.”

The two sides started preliminary discussions early this year.

Councilmen Adam Martinez and Steven Steel have sponsored the legislation that goes before full council Tuesday and is likely to be debated in a committee hearing later.

In March, Toledo Board of Education member Lisa Sobecki, who heads the committee in charge of school construction and the Libbey demolition, said the school district needed to move ahead with an auction to sell items inside as part of its plans to tear down the school.

“We have a resolution that we passed a couple months ago to go into negotiations with the city,” Ms. Sobecki said. “If there is an opportunity to save the campus or part of it, no one is against that.”

The auction is scheduled for early next month, school district spokesman Patty Mazur said.

Demolition plans must be in place by Dec. 31, Ms. Sobecki said, otherwise the district will lose funding from the Ohio School Facilities Commission to carry out the work.

Councilman D. Michael Collins, a 1962 Libbey High graduate and a member of the school’s preservation committee, has been working to help get the main building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That designation, controlled by the U.S. Department of the Interior, could unlock federal grant money for rehabilitating the structure, which could make it more marketable.

After a school levy failed in May, the school board voted 3-2 to close the school.



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