Now that students have moved from the old Buckeye Valley West Elementary School in Ostrander to the new school building in Bellepoint, the Village of Ostrander is seeking ownership of the district’s property within the village.
Speaking on the behalf of the village, Debra Young Bowden assured the Buckeye Valley Board of Education Wednesday evening that the village has been working on a concept plan, and it has the financial resources to take ownership of the property.
With that said, Bowden then asked the board to allow the village to be involved in the final decision concerning the school building.
Bowden said that when the school district campaigned for the bond issue, Ostrander officials, like officials in Radnor, were under the assumption that the building would be demolished and the property transferred to the village.
In 2016, after vacating Buckeye Valley North, the district demolished the old building and donated the property to the Village of Radnor.
“We want to share with you that it is not going to be an eyesore if you decide to proceed with this plan,” she said. “Everyone wants to convert the property into a community asset that everybody can be proud of.”
According to Superintendent Andrew Miller, an old assessment report seem to indicate that the Ostrander building opened in 1937. But according to a July 1, 1975 edition of The Delaware Gazette, the first building originally opened on the site in 1884, but as the area grew, the original building was razed, a new building was built, and over time the building received several renovations.
Bowden said “at the end of the night,” the village is asking if the board is still committed to that plan.
“When might a decision be made?” she asked. “And in rather short order, we would appreciate if you can get it on one of the future agendas.”
Bowden said the village has done a lot of background work, held meetings with formal presentations, and looked at the business feasibility of the property.
“Initially, we looked at the building options,” she said. “We first focused on using the entire school building, but if the school couldn’t afford it, we couldn’t afford it.”
Bowden said the next option was to demolish the entire building and keep the land, and the third was to only keep the 1996 annex.
“Then, finally some combination of that,” she said. “Everybody wants to keep that gymnasium and auditorium. If we have somebody who steps up with a million dollars, we’ll be happy to keep it, otherwise, we’ll have to figure out how to make that happen.”
Bowden said the possible building uses would be for municipal offices, a community center, and a not-for-profit space that would include things “like United Way Strengthening Families like at Willis school.”
Next to the building, Bowden said the most valuable asset is the land on which the village envisions a new community center and gathering place.
“We’d have the Veteran’s Memorial out there, an amphitheater, trees, parks, natural traditional play spaces, a splash pad, walking paths, fitness courses, entrepreneurial shops, concessions, restrooms, a shelter house, and the sports fields would be reconfigured so the playgrounds and everything is on the same side,” she said. “Then we would have it connect to all parts of the village, including the new growth that is coming to the west of there.”
Bowden said all future developments are required to have additional park space that can be connected to the village park via the multi-trail.
“We’re creating an overall village and community master plan and hope to adopt Heritage Ohio’s downtown revitalization models,” she said. “Economic development is going to be key to this.”
Miller told the board that he had been in contact with village officials for the last three years looking at different plans for the building and the land.
“The conversation I’ve had with Ostrander was originally we would take down the buildings and simply sell the land for a nominal fee over to the village,” he said. “At this point, I think they are politely asking if it’s still the intention of the board to move forward with the plan.”
Miller said the kids vacated the old Ostrander building to move to the new building at Bellepoint just after winter break. While the building now sits unused, Miller said there is still a “million things” in the building, and it would be summer before the district totally vacated it.
“It would cost $200,000 to demolish the whole building, where it would cost $240,000 to demolish only part of the building,” he said. “I can pull together what the next steps are for the board and answer questions.”
The board took no action on the old Buckeye Valley property.
However, Bowden asked the board for a decision before Independence Day this year, Ostrander’s biggest event of the year, so the news could be shared with the residents of the village.