Friday, Dec 02, 2016
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Toledo to study redoing 2 Libbey High facilities

Toledo city officials said Tuesday they intend to hire an engineering firm to determine the cost of turning Libbey High School's fieldhouse and skill center into a community recreation center.

The Toledo Board of Education last week approved a development agreement that would transfer ownership of the fieldhouse and skill center on Libbey's campus to the city.

The 80-year-old main school building, which closed after the 2009-2010 school year, would be razed under the schools' plan. Because the complex's heating and cooling systems are in the main building, a new system would have to be installed for the remaining buildings. Both buildings also need roof repairs.

Under the agreement passed by the board of education, Toledo Public Schools would pay the initial repair bill, which the city would repay over three years. How much all that would cost isn't yet known.

Thomas Crothers, deputy mayor of external relations, did not have those figures Tuesday for a joint meeting of two Toledo City Council committees.

Mr. Crothers said in a few weeks he would prepare a report for council with numbers from the engineering study as well as figures on expenses such as utilities and any potential revenue the facility might generate.

If the city does not take over the fieldhouse and skill center, they too are to be razed, so officials are working under a relatively tight deadline.

Council is waiting for those numbers before taking action.

Although individuals and preservation groups are pushing to save the historic building, city officials have said they will not join the fight.

"The city is absolutely not going to get involved in the determination of what happens to the high school property, nor should we," Mr. Crothers said after the meeting. "That is a TPS responsibility, and they own the facility. They're going to decide what they want to do with it. Our interest is if there is a way to cost-effectively renovate the fieldhouse and the skill center into what would, for all intents and purposes, become a community center on Western Avenue."

The administration's plans for the property include youth sports and mentoring programs.

Councilman Rob Ludeman continued questioning why TPS doesn't do the renovations on its own.

"Why can't they do what we're being asked to do?" he asked.

James Gant, chief business manager for TPS, said it was a financial decision. The job of the schools, he said, is to educate; creating a recreation center does not fit that task.

Mr. Crothers was not sure what the engineering study would cost. He initially told council he hoped to stay under $10,000, but said after the meeting it could cost more.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.

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