Wednesday evening, Circleville Council met for more than an hour as the Committee of the Whole before the council session. Council had a long discussion on what to do about the two parts of old Everts School they still own.
While the main historic school building has been renovated into senior housing and is a separate property, the gym and industrial arts wings are still owned by the city - which must keep them for another four years because of their tie-in with those renovations of the entire National Register-listed property.
There are several organizations interested in creating the "Pickaway Arts & Life Center," but the city has not taken any action on the two parts for almost three years, and this is the second winter they have been unheated.
An independent facility assessment agreed with the $1.5 million dollar estimate by the city for repairs and minimal renovations.
There are grants and pledges available to cover some of the costs, but financial chair Barry Keller emphasized the numbers. He said option one would be to lease to an organization.
Since the city has no money, he says they need to find a strong financial partner. Keller hopes the organizations that have shown interest can come up with better financials.
Otherwise it might be option two: just sit on them and do nothing until the time runs out, which would be demolition by neglect.
Tom Spring has been a sponsor of this project from the start. He responded to repeated comments that the city has no money to spend, and the grants and pledges available have too many strings attached.
He said there is more than one way to generate funds and come up with a proposal. He says other central Ohio cities have found ways to create community recreation centers, and he does not understand why Circleville must "reinvent the wheel" when there are nearby examples.
Spring says the city can't sell the property yet, and there is some money available for renovation - so why not do that, or at least part. A building that is at least partly renovated is more valuable than one that is not.
He feels as long as there's discussion, there's hope
Both hope to hear good news in the next committee meeting, February 5th.
Kevin Coleman regularly reports on Chillicothe & Circleville councils and local culture