The Columbus City Schools' board voted unanimously last night to offer to sell the shuttered Indianola Middle School building to Ohio State University for a yet-to-be-determined price.
Alison Holm has more.
The recommendation to offer to sell Indianola Middle School to Ohio State was a last minute addition to the school board’s agenda. OSU associate vice president of local government relations says discussions began a year ago, long before the district placed the property on the auction list. But she says – beyond the immediate goal of stabilizing the building – the university hasn’t decided what they will do with the site.
“At this point in time there is not a detailed or focused vision, it’s about being a community benefit for the university district. We have not gotten to the point where we have programmed the building to be what it is, because we want to do that not only with the district, but with the residents."
Many details of the quick-fire deal were not available at the board meeting, including the text of the resolution board members approved unanimously. Apparently, the Memorandum of Understanding spelling out the details of the $2.3 million dollar deal are still in the draft phase. School board member Eric Brown, who voted to approve the offer, insisted that it needed to be contingent on certain assurances from Ohio State.
“My concern, specifically was that the use be a public school. And that it be open and accessible to all, and that it would not be an exclusive or charter (school).”
The building was one of the first junior high schools in the nation when it opened in 1929, but was closed in 2009, leaving a gap in the neighborhood school feeder pattern. Historian and former Indianola Middle School teacher John Sauer spoke in favor of the deal, seeing it as a way to heal the neighborhood.
“School closings helped to carve out the doughnut hole in the city of Columbus School system. We hope that by moving this property onto OSU, we can…make our neighborhood a good example of how the big university and the city school district can work together.”
City council member and university district resident Mike Stinziano also spoke in favor of the deal. He says neighbors were concerned that if the 9.6 acre parcel went ot public auction, it would attract the wrong kind of developers.
“As I’ve heard from many, many, many, many, many, many residents, a potentially dense residential development at the Indianola Middle School site is not what this immediate neighborhood needs nor desires. A collaborative partnership with Ohio State to preserve, reuse and rehabilitate an historic building and school grounds would benefit the community as a whole, providing space for a public institution, and greatly outweigh any private use.”
The district will now officially offer the property to Ohio State for $2.3 million. Bartley says there is no immediate timeline for action. Based on a preliminary study, she estimates it may take nearly a million dollars to stabilize the building.