• 39°

ICS approves West Ironton building sale

IRONTON — One down, four to go.

The future of one of the five buildings Ironton City Schools placed on the auction block earlier this month became a little clearer Tuesday night when the Ironton Board of Education approved the sale of West Ironton Elementary.

Following a lengthy executive session, board members voted 4-1 to accept the minimum auction bid of $62,500 for the North Third Street school. Made by Ironton-based R Financial Services, LLC at the district’s July 6 auction.

Board member Bob Vaughn was the lone dissenting vote.

Auction rules mandated minimum bids be 50 percent of the building’s appraised value. West Ironton was appraised at $125,000.

None of the other four buildings in the auction — Central School, Whitwell Elementary, Lawrence Street School and the Board of Education Office — received a bid.

A condition of the auction stipulated that all accepted bids be approved by members of the Ironton Board of Education.

The board could approve a bid, or decline it and use other means to garner maximum value from the building and property.

Nance said the board’s decision to accept the $62,500 bid instead of using a large percentage of state monies to raze the building and sell the property in lots, came down to economics.

“The building is costly to heat and costly to maintain,” Nance said. “Plus taking into a account the percentage we would have to pay in tearing the building down and the price a lot would go for in that neighborhood, the board felt accepting the bid was best for the district.”

The state facilities commission offers a program where monies are available to demolish school buildings.

The state picks up 73 percent of the costs with the school district picking up the remaining 27 percent.

A requirement is that the building had to have been recently used to house district students.

Nance also shot down rumors that the district needed to accept the bid due to a possible cash crunch.

“We didn’t feel pressured to sell it,” Nance said.

R Financial Services manager Ed Rambacher said following the auction that he had “tentative plans” for West Ironton, but declined to elaborate.

Nance said following the board’s approval of the sale, that Rambacher indicated to him he “wouldn’t let the building turn into urban blight.”

At the time of its bid, R Financial Services was required to put a 10-percent “faithful performance” deposit down on the building and now that their bid has been approved, they have 30 days to pay the remaining 90 percent on the building.

All buildings in the auction are sold “as is.”

Interest strong in Lawrence, Whitwell

Following the West Ironton approval, Nance told members of the board that pair of private sale offers is in the process of being made for Lawrence Street School and Whitwell Elementary.

Nance indicated following the July 6 auction, numerous entities have asked about several properties and have “been making offers” to the district for buildings still available.

While not disclosing specific names, Nance said two area churches have approached the district asking for tours and even in one case measuring rooms for specifications.

Nance said an offer has been received by the district for Lawrence Street School and one will be soon arriving for Whitwell Elementary.

Nance also indicated the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization is in discussions with the district on a possible lease agreement, but would not give further details.

The poverty agency had been in a lease agreement with the district to house its Head Start program at Central School and had strongly considered placing a bid to purchase Whitwell until state funding cuts made the purchase unlikely.

They did not participate in the auction.

At the superintendent’s request, the board scheduled a special session for July 27 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss the two potential sale offers and the CAO’s lease.

The possibility of the district entertaining a private sale of any of its buildings represents a 180-degree turn in attitude in just two weeks.

Since the public auction was held, the district now has the option to sell any of the four unsold buildings privately.

However, following the auction Nance said any type of private sale would be going against the wishes of the board.

“Now would have been the time for someone to buy one of the buildings,” Nance said on July 6.

He indicated that the district would still require private sale proposals to be at least 50-percent of the buildings appraised value.

Kingsbury School is not part of the auction package.

The South Sixth Street school building will become the new home for St. Lawrence Catholic School in the fall under a standing lease agreement the district has with the Catholic parish.

Monies generated for the sale of any or all buildings will be directed towards improvements not covered under the facilities program that built the new schools.

Among them include repairs to Tanks Memorial Stadium and the Conley Center.