The board heard from several community members about their wishes for the future of Central School.
During a special school board meeting on Tuesday night, members of the Chillicothe R-II School Board heard from various members of the community and discussed the future of Central School, before deciding to seek bids for both demolition and rehabbing the school, which was built in 1954.
Last week, Chillicothe R-II Superintendent Dan Wiebers announced the bod originally submitted by the Hamilton Group had to be rescinded due to issues with the performance bond. At Tuesday nights meeting Patrice Robertson spoke to the board on behalf of the Hamilton Group.
"The Hamilton Group does want to apologize for what happened with the performance bond," Robertson told the board. "They thought it would work out and it did not."
Robertson went onto say that in addition to the $20,000 bid the group placed and the board accepted at the June 18 board meeting, the Hamilton Group would now also make a $30,000 donation to the school district and would also work with Friends of the Park to see if that group was interested in some of the playground equipment.
Robertson said the playground area at Central sChool would be fixed immediately for neighborhood use.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Hamilton Group submitted a letter of intent to Wiebers and a packet with their plans for the building.
In addition to Robertson, several other community members spoke about their feelings about why the school should be demolished or repurposed.
Ben White, executive director of Main Street Chillicothe, told the board that there is a need for market-rate housing n Chillicothe, and the focus of his organization is to focus on saving historic buildings. Repurposing Central School would do both, he said.
Former School board president Brent Turner also spoke, saying, "We made promises to this community about demolishing of rehabbing two schools, when the bond was passed, and the way I see it, we have not done that.... I think we need to knock it down and move on."
Nathan Zabka, a Chillicothe resident, firefighter and contractor, said he was interested in rehabbing the building and would turn the first level of the school into one bedroom, handicap accessible apartments and the second floor would be two-bedroom apartments. He expected to be able to have 20-22 apartments in the building and rent them each out for $600-$650 per month. He did tell the board he though construction and remodeling of the building could take up to four years.
Reena Perkins with Perkins Dozing and Demolition said they were interested in bidding if the board chose to seek bids on the demolition of the building. Perkins Dozing and Demolition completed the recent demolition of three homes on Bryan Street, near Grand River Technical School.
Following public comment, the board began their discussion, which started with a motion by Pat Jones to demolish the building. The board discussed options and timelines for moving forward with either rehabilitation of the school or demolition. When the motion was brought up for a vote, no members voted for demolition. Lindy Chapman then made a motion to seek bids for both demolition and rehabilitation of the building. that motion passed unanimously.
Anyone wishing to bid on either aspect should call the board office and speak with Wiebers. Bids are due by Sept. 12, and the board plans to vote on which direction to move forward with the matter during their September meeting.