by George A. Lucas, Member, Milford Board of Education
Milford Main Street School, built 1913, community icon, enduring years of faithful service to the education of Milford/Miami Township students. Many have speculated on the disposition of this community landmark since 2002 when the State of Ohio declared it an unacceptable educational facility. The two studies, over a ten year period, by the Business Advisory Council (BAC) concur with those State findings. The Ohio Schools Facility Commission (OSFC) declared Main unqualified for renovation and return to service not conducive with the Master Facilities Plan filed in 2000. The Board of Education (BOE) has attempted to balance the cost of operation to continue a useful purpose through leasing useable space. Unfortunately, for several years, Main has cost the district to remain in use.
This brings us to what seems one of four solutions: Preserve, re-purpose, sell, or raze the facility. Historic preservationists with a passion to save Main view it as an icon representing our proud history of education. Various groups would support renovate and re-purpose Main for community use. The BAC business model advocates abandon and sell.
Selling Main as-is, for renovation and re-purposing, presents some unique problems for entrepreneurial development. In 2002, the cost to renovate and abate hazardous materials was estimated at $7 million; this is a lot to make up from a new venture. The cost to abate hazardous materials and demolish Main, providing an empty piece of land, is currently estimated at $800K to $900K.
The zoning, as we have become so familiar with, limits certain use of the property. The infrastructure of the City also needs to be considered. All aspects regarding disposition of Main, none without focused deliberation, have been extensively reviewed and studied by BOE members, Superintendent, Operations Manager, City, Township, and State officials.
The BOE has applied to the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC formerly OSFC) to expand and include, in the scope of work for construction of Boyd E. Smith and Seipelt Elementaries, the demolition of Main. Once completed, the community once again will rely on the judgement of those same officials to make best use of the property.
If you have followed the process, as I have while serving on the BOE, it is truly a difficult decision to say the least. During the next several months, I along with other board members and numerous previously named officials, will do what we are elected to do. We all have a dedication to the betterment of our community. I believe all will act in the best interest of the community to ensure a well-deserved respectful end to our cherished icon, Milford Main, and open a new era of possibilities for the property.