Residents of city of Spring Hill face a difficult question: what to do with the original portion of the elementary school that is now a vacant wing of the civic center/city hall.
Architects have estimated renovations to that portion of the civic center will cost $1.5 million. Demolition isn’t cheap, either. City Council has been informed that asbestos containment and removal will be about $100,000 and demolition will cost another $100,000. And that doesn’t include problems that may arise with the south wall of the gymnasium if the building is torn down. Safety is of concern to the council if the building remains in poor repair so a decision and action needs to be made soon.
Yes, the costs are high but the city of Spring Hill needs to save something.
Residents need some sense of history and it doesn’t look like there is a lot of hope at this point for the downtown area. The original school is the oldest public building in Spring Hill and there are many residents who have precious memories of their time spent in that school. The thought of demolition to these residents is the equivalent of demolishing the very core of Spring Hill.
Citizens will need to weigh the financial implications of renovations with the building’s potential use and how it could serve the community.
Is this historic structure worth $1.5 million?
That’s a question voters will now have to answer. City Council members approved a ballot initiative that will ask voters to approve the letting of more than $1.5 million in bonds to completely renovate and remodel the old school house. Specifically, the remodeling estimates are to create office space in the structure, but should the ballot question prevail, council members will have to determine exactly how the building can best be used.
That may mean leasing the space to businesses or selling it for the same purpose. Or, it could mean keeping the building and using it for an art center, museum or community theater.
Should voters decide that’s not a reasonable option, city officials have said they’ll pay to have the building destroyed.
Regardless of what the voters decide, city officials should move quickly following the election. If the measure passes, officials should create a steering committee to determine how the building will be used.
If it doesn’t pass, officials should immediately hire someone to demolish the building. It’s been in disrepair for years and the decision of what to do with the building has taken too long for council members to punt taking further action on the building into the future. After November, the decision will be made. The council simply must act on it.