New Carlisle offers to give away school building

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The Springfield News-Sun has provided unmatched coverage of the New Carlisle’s struggle to sell the Madison Street school since the building was purchased in 1998.

After years of trying to sell the Madison Street elementary school, New Carlisle city officials said they will give the property to anyone who will pay to demolish the vacant building.

The decision comes just months after the New Carlisle City Council agreed to sell the property for $50,000 — that’s less than half of what the city paid for the property in 1998 and a fraction of the renovation costs.

“We would take any offer at this point just to get rid of it,” said Kimberly Jones, New Carlisle city manager.

City officials hope the new “free if you demolish it” deal will attract new developers who weren’t looking at the property. The site is zoned R2 or residential.

“If you were going to go buy six acres of prime land you would probably spend quite a bit, too,” Jones said. “So I hope people look at it that way.”

The value of the land and building are appraised at $724,190, according to the Clark County Auditor’s Office.

The building was purchased in 1998 after voters approved issues allowing the city to purchase the school for $110,000 and increasing the city’s income tax by a half percent, in part to pay for the project. But a $5 million renovation price tag and $300,000 demolition cost are more than the city can afford, Jones said.

“We bought it and we need to fix it but everyone has to understand our hands are pretty much tied as far as our budget,” she said.

One of the problems the city has faced with the building over the past 16 years has been vandalism of the vacant property. The latest vandals have cut the padlocks from the doors and replaced them with different locks, Jones said.

“We’re spending money just to maintain the building and keep it somewhat safe,” she said.

Over the summer the school was the scene of an arson, and the property is littered with graffiti and broken out windows.

Don Caudill lives next door to the school on West Madison Street and said he sees teenagers trespassing on the property every week.

“I’ll be doing something out here in the yard and here come a group of kids and I’ll say ‘Can’t you read?’ … It clearly says no trespassing, private property,” he said.

The inside of the building is extremely unsafe, Jones said, and one of the city’s main concerns is that someone will be seriously injured if they break into the building.

“There’s not been a serious accident over there and that shocks me more than anything else,” Caudill said.

Some in the West Madison neighborhood are also worried about their property values declining because of the eyesore, Jones said.

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