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Annex demolition put off until end of school year

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As a result of what he termed “safety concerns that have been shared,” Columbus City Schools Superintendent J. Daniel Good announced Friday, April 25, that demolition of the Clinton Annex will not take place until after classes let out for the summer.

The project, over the objections of many in the community, was originally scheduled to have started next week, and a “Stop the Demolition Rally!” to keep the Clinton Annex from being torn down remains scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, April 28.

The protest against plans by Columbus City Schools’ officials to remove the 110-year-old structure from the grounds of Clinton Elementary was to have taken place near the intersection of North High Street and Clinton Heights Avenue.

It is being organized by resident Gavin DeVore Leonard, who also launched a petition on the website MoveOn.org to urge members of the board of education to hold off on demolition plans.

As of Friday afternoon, 352 people had signed the online petition.

That same afternoon, however, Good released a letter announcing the decision to put off the project until after May 29.

“The district takes its responsibility of providing a safe, high-quality, educationally appropriate environment for our students and staff very seriously,” he wrote. “In light of the safety concerns that have been shared, as well as the potential disruption to students and staff during the upcoming state assessments, Columbus City Schools has informed our contractor that demolition work on the Clinton Elementary School Annex will not begin until after the last day of school …

“The contractor concurs that this schedule is workable without any significant cost to the project.”

A decision by a majority of the Clintonville Area Commission not to approve a demolition permit at their April 3 meeting put the project on hold until April 29, the day after the planned rally.

At a special CAC meeting held on April 15, members Randy Ketcham, Nancy Kuhel, Libby Wetherholt, Dana K.J. Bagwell, Jason Meek and Kristopher Keller all voted to send a letter to the school board asking that they “stay all efforts to demolish the building.” Chairman Daniel B. Miller abstained from voting, as has become his practice. D Searcy and Rob Wood voted against sending the letter, copies of which also went to Superintendent and Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

“Clinton Elementary’s Annex building is slated for demolition any day now,” Leonard wrote in announcing the April 28 rally. “While this has been discussed for some time, many of us in the neighborhood have only recently been made aware of the situation. Please show up at the rally, sign the petition and call the board of education if you are concerned about the demolition …”

Among the reasons Leonard cited for being concerned are that the building has historic value and it should be preserved to provide additional classroom space for the already overcrowded elementary school.

“There are legitimate hurdles to make the Annex all it could be,” Leonard admitted in his announcement, “but they’re outweighed by the benefits of keeping the school, especially when we think long term. More green space would be great, but the benefits of the building are greater.”

Later Friday morning, Good had indicated that the demolition project was a go, sending Leonard a response to the petition that he posted on Facebook. It read in part:

“It is difficult when we must say good-bye to historic buildings and Columbus City Schools has a strong reputation throughout the state of Ohio for preserving historic structures when practical. In fact, when Ohio started its school building program historical preservation did not qualify for state funding and it was Columbus City Schools that approached the Ohio School Facilities Commission in 2002 and advocated for a significant revision to their policies to enable the renovation of historical school buildings where appropriate.

“Unfortunately, our district must now move forward with the demolition of the Clinton Annex. The Annex has been slated for demolition since 2002, and for the past four years the district has offered to the Clintonville community the opportunity to identify an alternative use for the historic building. We have also entertained proposals to remove the building from the school district’s property. At no time has a viable option been brought forward, and on Dec. 17, 2013, the Board of Education voted to proceed with the demolition based upon the recommendation of its Neighborhood School Development Partnership committee, a group made up of community members.”

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Rally to prevent Annex demolition set for April 28

A “Stop the Demolition Rally!” to keep the Clinton Annex from being torn down is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, April 28.

The protest against plans by Columbus City Schools’ officials to remove the 110-year-old structure from the grounds of Clinton Elementary School will take place near the intersection of North High Street and Clinton Heights Avenue.

It is being organized by resident Gavin DeVore Leonard, who also launched a petition on the website MoveOn.org to urge members of the school board to delay demolition plans.

As of Friday morning, April 25, 344 people had signed the online petition.

A decision by a majority of Clintonville Area Commission members not to approve a demolition permit at their April 3 meeting put the project on hold until Tuesday, April 29, the day after the rally.

At a special CAC meeting held April 15, members Randy Ketcham, Nancy Kuhel, Libby Wetherholt, Dana K.J. Bagwell, Jason Meek and Kristopher Keller voted to send a letter to the school board asking that they “stay all efforts to demolish the building.” Chairman Daniel B. Miller abstained from voting, as has become his practice. D Searcy and Rob Wood voted against sending the letter, copies of which also went to Superintendent J. Daniel Good and Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

“Clinton Elementary’s Annex building is slated for demolition any day now,” Leonard wrote in announcing the April 28 rally. “While this has been discussed for some time, many of us in the neighborhood have only recently been made aware of the situation. Please show up at the rally, sign the petition and call the board of education if you are concerned about the demolition … ”

Among the reasons Leonard cited for being concerned are that the building has historic value and it should be preserved to provide additional classroom space for the already-overcrowded elementary school.

“There are legitimate hurdles to make the Annex all it could be,” Leonard said in his announcement, “but they’re outweighed by the benefits of keeping the school, especially when we think long term. More green space would be great, but the benefits of the building are greater.”

On Friday morning, Good sent Leonard a response to the petition that was posted on Facebook.

It read in part:

“It is difficult when we must say goodbye to historic buildings and Columbus City Schools has a strong reputation throughout the state of Ohio for preserving historic structures when practical. In fact, when Ohio started its school building program, historical preservation did not qualify for state funding and it was Columbus City Schools that approached the Ohio School Facilities Commission in 2002 and advocated for a significant revision to their policies to enable the renovation of historical school buildings where appropriate.

Unfortunately, our district must now move forward with the demolition of the Clinton Annex. The Annex has been slated for demolition since 2002, and for the past four years the district has offered to the Clintonville community the opportunity to identify an alternative use for the historic building. We have also entertained proposals to remove the building from the school district’s property. At no time has a viable option been brought forward, and on Dec. 17, 2013, the Board of Education voted to proceed with the demolition based upon the recommendation of its Neighborhood School Development Partnership committee, a group made up of community members.”

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