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CAC fires off letter as Annex fight persists

New missive, approved with 5-3 vote, keeps pressure on CCS board to save building

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Efforts to save the Clinton Annex will not go away, although Columbus City Schools officials clearly want the old structure to disappear.

Even though one member of the Clintonville Area Commission complained last week that they were beating the proverbial dead horse, a majority of members voted to send a letter, drafted by District 8's Kristopher Keller, that responds to an April 28 email from CCS board member Mary Jo Hudson. Hudson's letter was a response to an April 15 letter from CAC Chairman Daniel B. Miller asking for a delay in demolishing the 110-year-old structure on the grounds of Clinton Elementary School, 10 Clinton Heights Ave.

"We as a body have done enough," District 7 member Jason Meek said.

Joining Meek in opposing the letter, which raises several questions about the advisability of tearing down the historic structure, were Rob Wood of District 1 and District 9's D Searcy.

Nancy Kuhel of District 2, Libby Wetherholt of District 3, Dana Bagwell of District 5 and Victor Ketcham of District 6 sided with Keller.

Miller abstained.

"Thank you for our responses to our request for further consideration regarding the proposed demolition of the building known as the Clinton Annex," the CAC letter begins. "It was previously reported that the wood-framed structure is not safe. We have learned since that the building is, in fact, a masonry building with wood roof, much like the Fort Hayes building, and is structurally sound. We have also learned some things that suggest that the best use of the school may still be to educate our children. Several questions still remain unanswered that we feel are very important to consider."

The missive goes on to ask why district officials would not want to take advantage of a possible seven additional classrooms in a remodeled Annex for the highly rated but overcrowded elementary school next door.

The letter was directed to both Hudson and district Superintendent J. Daniel Good with copies to the other school board members.

In her email, Hudson wrote, in part: "I have collected information regarding the history of the planning of this demolition decision, and it is clear that over the past five years, there has been a significant amount of community contact and planning that has gone into making this decision. I am pleased to know that CCS has worked deliberately in making this decision. Additionally, CCS has for many years maintained a facilities task force that includes community members. Therefore, many of the concerns expressed in this effort have been taken into account.

"Further, these long-time efforts demonstrate that there has been ample time for preservation or other use/movement of the building scheduled for demolition. Since neither the city of Columbus nor any other party has come forward with an alternative plan to address the needs of Clinton Elementary as well as to preserve the building, demolition appears to be the next step."

Although demolition of the Annex originally was scheduled to begin at the end of April, Good decided April 25 that due to what he termed "safety concerns that have been shared," the project would be delayed until after classes end for the summer at Clinton Elementary School.

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