New Albany will contribute $15,000 to the New Albany-Plain Local School District to establish a permanent renewable-energy education center south of Swickard Woods and north of New Albany Middle School.
Bill Resch, the district's environmental consultant, had requested $25,000 from City Council Dec. 3 for installation of a water and sewer line to the facility and upgrades to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
Resch said the building would be used by the Eastland Fairfield Career and Technical Schools environmental education program, which is open to 16 school districts and operates at New Albany High School.
The building could also be used by the community, he said.
Resch said he is requesting funding prior to the city's distribution of grants, which usually takes place in February, so the sewer line can be installed in conjunction with lines being laid for a new K-8 building being constructed between New Albany Middle School and the 2-5 elementary building.
City Councilman Sloan Spalding said Dec. 3 that while he can appreciate the importance of the project, the city decided last year to limit grants to $10,000.
Councilman Chip Fellows asked if Resch had exhausted all other grant options.
Resch said has received $107,434 in donations or in-kind contributions related to the building; he said New Albany-Plain Local did not have more money to give.
Mayor Nancy Ferguson made a motion to donate $25,000, which failed by a 3-2 vote. She was joined by Stephen Pleasnick but Glyde Marsh, Fellows and Spalding voted against it.
Colleen Briscoe was absent and the seventh council seat is vacant after Chris Wolfe resigned last month.
Spalding then made a motion to grant $10,000 to the schools and match up to $5,000 more if the New Albany-Plain Local schools or Eastland Fairfield Career and Technical Schools contribute to the project.
"I just want to see a financial commitment from the schools for this educational project," Spalding said in an email to ThisWeek.
The renewable-energy education center was built by Ohio State University architecture and engineering students. It has solar panels and will operate self-sufficiently, not requiring other power sources.
The center also has a radiant heating system in the floor and a natural waste-disposal unit. It is valued at $300,000, Resch said.
Though it has a self-contained waste-disposal system, Resch said, Franklin County Public Health requires the building be hooked up to the sanitary-sewer system.
If the center could have been placed within 500 feet of another school building, the facility would not have needed an operational restroom, he said.
Resch said placement has been approved by the school district and the city's architectural review board.
Spalding asked if the building could be moved and Resch said it could not.
The building was donated by Ohio State. It has been in storage at the New Albany Church of the Resurrection until it can be placed on a permanent foundation, Resch said.
Tom Rubey, development director for the New Albany Co., was at the City Council meeting Dec. 3. He said Dec. 4 the company would donate $5,000 to the project.
Ferguson said she anticipates another donor may come forward this week.
"We greatly appreciate Bill and his tremendous efforts to raise the funds to support this project, which we know is his passion," district spokesman Patrick Gallaway said in an email. "Our students, staff and community will benefit for many years to come.
"Our discussions are ongoing with Bill as to the remaining amount needed for the project. We continue to encourage his work to identify support and as a district we are considering what we can do to also support the final piece to move the project forward."