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School district OKs demolition of vacant building



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April 17, 2013 - Brandon Twp.- The school board has declined to accept a purchase offer for the vacant Sherman Center and will move forward with a plan to have the building demolished.

In a vote on whether to accept a formal purchase request from Mary Wilcox, representing the North Oakland Charter Academy, the sole yes vote was Trustee Le Anne Schmidt.

"I was voting on the potential income for the district and the opportunity to save the costs of the demolition, a net approximately of $175,000 for the district," said Schmidt. "My vote was not in support of the charter school, it was in support of income to the district. There was no data presented on potential loss to the district so my vote was on income only."

The purchase offer was for $100,000. The North Oakland Charter Academy had expressed interest in establishing a kindergarten through fifth grade school in the building.

"The board didn't believe it was good for the school district and the building is no longer appropriate for students," explained Superintendent Lorrie McMahon on why the board declined the purchase offer. She added that the prospective buyers had never been inside the building, so they weren't aware of the poor conditions.

McMahon had previously noted long-term costs if the district lost more students. If the district lost just 14 students to the charter school, that would be a decrease of nearly $100,000 in annual per-pupil funding, negating the one-time sale price.

Following the 1-6 vote, the board unanimously approved a motion to award an asbestos abatement contract to L. Zellar and Sons Excavating of Flint. The company will remove asbestos at the Sherman Center at a cost of $28,000.

The asbestos abatement has to take place prior to demolition of the building. The board unanimously approved awarding a demolition contract to R&R Earthmovers of Ortonville for $47,027.

"The asbestos abatement will take place this spring as soon as we can get it scheduled," McMahon said.

The demolition of the building will not take place until November due to use of the building for several emergency response training sessions by Brandon Fire Department personnel, as well as possibly the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

Following demolition, McMahon said the property will be restored to a "green, open space." Demolition of the building, she added, will save on insurance and utility costs for the district.

"We are not planning on listing the property," she said. "When we did talk about selling it for commercial purposes, the water systems weren't appropriate for anything commercial, such as apartments… It's a situation where if sewers go in, the property could be much more valuable. We will wait and see how things go with the village."

The Village of Ortonville has recently purchased property suitable for a wastewater treatment facility and is planning to study options in bringing a wastewater treatment system to the village which could also service school buildings.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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