For many, many years there has been concern over the state of disrepair of the old elementary school on West Columbus Street. Through the years the village has dealt with break ins to this building by adventurous teens/kids who took a chance in being injured in the building. In the past ten or so years we have found the roof to be caved in which in turn has caused internal structural damage. Windows have been broken and not repaired and the list of problems continues.
The village has attempted for many years to contact the owners to repair these zoning violations but was unable to reach them until just recently. When the village found the numerous doors unsecure, we spent money to secure them
to keep out any individuals but found them broken into a few weeks later.
Just this week (June 1, 2022) we have paid to have the building secured again. If you have been in that neighborhood in the past years, you would find numerous wildlife living in the structure and buzzards flying overhead. The raccoons have become a nuisance to this part of the village. This is a safety concern not just to those neighbors but also to the children playing baseball or on the playground equipment at Dodge Park.
The Logan County Health Department in a report from May 11, 2022 stated the following in their report, “being vacant and dilapidated with holes in the structure, especially the roof, and being unsecured and an animal harborage, constitutes a public health nuisance. Therefore, the structure has been condemned and is to be placarded as such for being uninhabitable.”
After considering all of this, the village has filed paperwork with the state of Ohio to take the building down. There is asbestos, lead paint, mold, etc. that must be addressed to remove it safely. We are working with the Logan County Land Bank to minimize the cost to the village.
This neighborhood deserves better from the village officials and so action must be taken. We are hoping to save many of the large blocks of stone to create a memory of the old elementary school. I have included pictures with this post so that you may see the inside conditions of this structure.
In January and February the Clerk and I were in a conversation with a developer from Columbus who had wished to purchase and rehab both schools. Unfortunately the more the developers looked at the structures they found them unsuitable for any profitable gain and the cost to restore prohibitive to what their plans were. So the developers walked away from the project. The properties have been vacant for more than 20 years. The water and electricity have not been on since 1995 according to our records.
The Village Council has been in discussion about what the anticipated use would be. Nothing has been decided yet as we are working through some issues.
I felt the community needed to know the facts and I too am very sad that we have no options. The elementary is filled with garbage, trash, and junk in every room. And this has increased the cost for taking down the building by $19,000. Before the narrative report from Chief Oelker, I was brainstorming some ideas on how to save it. But his report stated the fourth and third floors have collapsed and much of the floors are very unsafe with other structural concerns as well. I have spoken with Chief Leach and he also voiced many concerns about the safety of the building. The pictures from the inside show the damage caused by animals and the elements. Please know this was not an easy decision but we cannot continue to let this dilapidated structure negatively impact the safety and property value of this area of the village.
The good news for this area of the village is that we will be receiving an OPWC small government grant to pay for paving West Columbus Street from Reynolds Street to the bridge. The first phase of this project was paved from Detroit Street to Reynolds in 2010 with work beginning in 2011. So this new grant will allow us to save the rest of West Columbus which receives a lot of traffic with baseball players and their families traveling to and from games, practices, and tournaments all spring and summer. With the LEI turf field and the work to keep this park in great shape, Dodge Park is another great asset for our community. With the work to eventually reopen the bridge continuing, the hope is to revitalize this area of West Liberty.