Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Place An Ad | Warren Homecoming | All Access E-Edition | Home RSS

Committee tries option to save facade

March 18, 2008
By JENNIFER KOVACS Tribune Chronicle
WARREN — After more than two hours of discussion, a committee charged with trying to find an alternative to demolishing Warren G. Harding High School will ask the school board tonight to preserve the facade using the allotted initiative money, and private funds will pay for any additional costs.

It includes asking that the Board of Education consider an alternate scope for demolition of the building that would leave behind only the portion that was constructed in 1924 — including the front facade and auditorium — but without any later additions.

‘‘This will be our last chance to have enough of the building left to use,’’ said Dave Ambrose, a member of the Harding Historic Respect Committee.

Further recommendations that will be made to the school board will be that the project to preserve the high school not use more than the $927,000 remaining in the original locally funded initiative for the work. Otherwise, all further costs or maintenance would come out of an allowance to be created by the committee and funded through a private source.

Also, the committee wishes to pursue having the building added to the national registry of historic buildings. They will ask to be permitted time to explore all available options for use of the space.

The motion passed with four in agreement, two against and one abstention. Shari Harrell, who is also a school board member, chose not to vote. Committee members Colette Parker and John Taylor were the dissenting votes.

‘‘Unless we have a purpose for that building and a way to maintain and fund that, I cannot agree with keeping it,’’ Parker said.

However, many in the community and on the committee were left a bit more optimistic after a weekend visit by Lauren Burge, an architect and principal with Chambers, Murphy and Burge Preservation Architects in Akron.

Following a tour of the building Saturday, Burge met with the community-based group Save Harding Committee and stressed that the building could very likely be approved for the National Historic Registry, members reported.

‘‘I found that rather interesting,’’ said committee chairman Anthony Payiavlas.

The cost has been estimated at just $5,000 for consultant and application fees for the historic designation.

Ambrose said that his research also has shown that there are no apparent restrictions in how the building could be used if approved as a historic landmark, as long as renovations or even demolition was not funded with federal dollars.

The committee also took into account some tips on how to keep to the district’s timeline for overall construction at the Harding site prior to approving its motion for the school board.

Construction Manager Bill Schurman, with the Carbone Ozanne Hammond Management Team, said that if the school board were to allow for only portions of the building to be demolished, the new high school still could open on time.

However, the move would also come with cost to the district.

Basically, if the decision were to be made today, Schurman said the project would then most likely be broken into phases, the first being focused completely on demolishing what portion of the building is necessary to allow for the access road to the new school to be complete by the start of school in June — something that cannot be changed or delayed.

The second phase would then consist of the historic respect project, any further demolition that is necessary and remaining site work.

But with only portions of the building remaining, that means there would be a need for temporary enclosures and storm water management as well printing and advertising of bids for the additional work. All of that would fall under the umbrella of the historic respect project and would not be a shared cost with the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

There also would be additional fees for design work to break the project into two phases, rather than fully demolishing the building.

‘‘It’s difficult to say what a figure would be,’’ Schurman said.

The committee agreed as part of its motion for the school board to recommend that all of that extra cost come out of the locally funded initiative.

And while a significant chunk of what will be added to the overall bill will come from that additional design work, Schurman said the possibility exists that teams could take up where the former plan for Harding left off — that being to save about 43,000 square feet of the building with the facade, auditorium and limited office space.

But in order not to risk an on-time open, Schurman stressed that the school board will need to act quickly if it wishes to adhere to the recommendation of the committee.

‘‘That answer needs to come in a pretty short term,’’ he said.

Fact Box

The Warren City Board of Education will hold a regular meeting at 7 p.m. today at 261 Monroe St. S.W.



I am looking for: