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Published: Monday, 4/15/2013

Land use remains uncertain despite schools’ demolition

BY KELLY McLENDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The former Haskins Elementary School was demolished last month, part of a plan that shifted students from three elementary schools to a new consolidated Otsego Elementary School. The former Haskins Elementary School was demolished last month, part of a plan that shifted students from three elementary schools to a new consolidated Otsego Elementary School.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

TONTOGANY — The former Haskins Elementary School was demolished at the end of last month, and the former Weston Elementary School is on its way down as well.

The demolition was part of a consolidation plan that moved students from three separate elementary schools — Weston, Haskins, and Grand Rapids — into one, the new Otsego Elementary School in Tontogany at the Otsego campus.

Once controversial, the plan has helped foster a more collaborative focus in the community for some students and their parents.

The district has agreements in place with the villages of Haskins, Weston, and Grand Rapids for the sites of the former buildings.

“We have an agreement in place with Haskins that they will buy the property after demolition,” Otsego Local Schools superintendent Adam Koch said. He said Haskins will pay 45 percent of the actual costs of demolition. The cost to demolish the Haskins building is $69,500.

Colby Carroll, Haskins village administrator, said no formal plans have been set for what to do next.

“The village has discussed the potential of placing a new village hall and community room/council chamber there, but nothing has been confirmed,” he said.

The school district also worked out an agreement with the village of Weston for Weston Elementary. The cost to demolish the school is about $55,000, and the district will get $24,750 from the village, using the same 45 percent formula. The property also includes baseball and softball recreation fields.

Demolition of the Grand Rapids Elementary will take place later than the other two schools. Bidding for that demolition is expected to go out months from now because the district is housing seventh and eighth-grade students there while the junior high, located in Tontogany, undergoes renovations.

The junior high building is expected to be completed in June.

An agreement was made last year between the school district and the village of Grand Rapids to demolish the building.

But resident Lynn Sylvain said she is upset that the building will be demolished, despite her best efforts to save it. A Grand Rapids town hall meeting in March did not go the way she thought it would.

“It was ugly. Residents showed up ... we were told they were going to take it into executive session,” she said, adding that she waited in the hallway for about an hour while council discussed what to do with the property.

Ms. Sylvain and another resident, Dr. Dorinda Shelley, wanted to use the building to establish the Grand Rapids Art and Educational Center, which would support art, literacy, and seniors.

She said the funding would be provided by private individuals and that there would be a nonprofit organization. Ms. Sylvain said the current elementary building, which has a total of 25,000 square feet, is in “excellent overall condition.”

A request to Grand Rapids Mayor Marjory Obermyer regarding what the village plans to do with the site after demolition was not returned.

Contact Kelly McLendon at: kmclendon@theblade.com or 419-724-6522 or on Twitter @KMcBlade.



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