Booster

Annex backers soldiering on as demo looms

Advocates for building's preservation mull injunction to nix imminent razing

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Perhaps the zeal to preserve the Clinton Annex is waning.

Then again, the 11 people who attended a meeting on the subject last week convened by Positively Clintonville all stoutly wanted the 110-year-old former township school to be spared the wrecking ball for a variety of reasons.

Columbus City Schools officials plan to demolish the building, which sits on the grounds of Clinton Elementary School, 10 Clinton Heights Ave., possibly starting as early as today, May 29.

Before that happens, some of those gathered last week at Clinton Heights Lutheran Church for a meeting put on by the grassroots organization that seeks to promote civil discourse, talked of lawsuits and injunctions.

Seth Golding, a member of the University Area Commission whose daughter is in kindergarten at Clinton Elementary School, promised to get advice on legal options for blocking the district from destroying the building.

In the discussion, which was moderated by Clintonville Area Commission District 8 representative Kristopher Keller, some participants said they backed preservation because of the structure's heritage, while others argued it could serve as additional classroom space to prevent overcrowding at Clinton Elementary School.

"It is probably the only original county high school within Columbus or greater Columbus," said University Area Commission President Doreen Uhas-Sauer.

It is "tragic that so many interesting old buildings are being torn down," added Diane Harry of Clintonville.

"I feel like the developers are just taking over Columbus ... and they're putting up crap," said Chris Mendel, a resident of Clintonville since 1958.

"I really value good architecture," said Noreen Warnock, who lives a short distance from the elementary school and Annex.

She complained that not enough had been done to reach out to residents to inform them of the district's demolition plans, and that the issue had not gotten nearly the attention as the formerly controversial left-turn lane at East North Broadway and North High Street.

"Do we need to put ribbons around trees or something?" Warnock asked.

"What is the rush?" Karen Kosnikowski, who lives just north of Upper Arlington, wanted to know.

"The building's a landmark," said Ed Lentz, director of the Columbus Landmarks Foundation. "It's eminently adaptable for use in a variety of ways. It's not just a neat old building -- it's a neat old building that can be reused."

Two area commissions, composed of people elected by residents to be their representatives in government matters, have voted against the demolition, Golding pointed out.

"I think that would be key for them to put the brakes on," he said. "It would be just unbelievable if the school board went ahead and took that building down."

"As a community, we have so little left from that time period," Kosnikowski said. "We don't build them like that anymore."

"Obviously, we're all in unison here," Keller said.

An injunction, if an attorney can be found who can get such a request before a judge in time, might actually be welcomed by school board members so that they are no longer under fire for their stance regarding the proposed demolition, Uhas-Sauer said.

"I think that makes a lot of sense ... but, boy, does that have to happen fast," she added.

"They are losing face if they back down," said Positively Clintonville member Dave Penniman.

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