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Hoping to save Annex, backers spread word about new idea

Meeting to mull options put off as plan to create children's center takes shape

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A meeting that had been scheduled for Aug. 22 between Columbus City Schools officials and members of a committee seeking to preserve the Clinton Annex was canceled earlier in the week.

District officials said the committee's chairwoman had neglected to confirm the session, so it was rescheduled, said Mary Rodgers, president of the Clintonville Historical Society.

Rodgers, a member of the panel created by the Clintonville Area Commission to look into saving the former township high school building at 10 Clinton Heights Ave., said Carole Olshavsky, the district's senior executive for capital improvements, sent out an email postponing the session, during which a plan to transform the structure into a children's center was to have been discussed. A subsequent communication indicated that demolishing the structure on the grounds of Clinton Elementary School was not imminent.

"The purpose of the meeting was for us to present this, and at the same time, (Olshavsky) was going to present to that particular group of people the demolition request so that she could then put it out for bids," Rodgers said. "I would assume since the meeting was canceled that those things won't happen until October."

In what she and other committee members now hope is additional time to come up with a plan that will be acceptable to school administrators, Rodgers said she has begun pursuing grants that would turn the structure, which was built in about 1904, into the Clinton Children's Center.

The building would host an after-school enrichment program during the academic year and humanities-based camps in the summer months, she said.

"I think when it comes to next steps ... we're just going to try to raise awareness of the project," Rodgers said.

Information about the Clinton Children's Center plan will be posted to and updated on the Facebook page of the Clintonville Historical Society and the website of the Clintonville Area Commission, whose members voted July 11 to create a committee to explore sparing the old school from the wrecking ball.

Also during the next few weeks, Rodgers said she and other committee members want to meet with members of the elementary school's PTA, who are on record as favoring the removal of the building to create more green space on the campus at the intersection of North High Street and Clinton Heights Avenue.

"I wouldn't expect them to know too much about the plan, because there's been no formal presentation yet, but ... this is just such a fabulous idea and it's never been presented to them for consideration," Rodgers said.

"I feel that the business model is sound," she added. "I've run the numbers. I'm an experienced businessperson with a lot of years. As far as the numbers, the numbers work.

"The need is definitely there. There are families on waiting lists throughout this community and other communities. From the standpoint of logic, financial, I think it's a sound investment. ... The Clinton Annex building is the highly desired building. If we want this, now's the time and that building is it."

It's not often in historical preservation efforts, Rodgers said, when a building, a community need and financial viability coincide.

"It's rare for all of these elements to come together," she said. "What needs to happen is the greater community needs to become aware of the project and show their support for the project."

Rodgers said people interested in supporting the Clinton Children's Center concept may call her at 614-657-6854.

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