EAST LIVERPOOL - The transfer of the former East Junior High School building from the school district to the city is now complete, and plans are in the works to develop the property.
Superintendent James Herring, Treasurer Todd Puster, buildings and grounds Director Mark Reed and city Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell toured the building recently.
The exchange of city-owned property on Pope Street to the school district is still pending, awaiting finalization of legal paperwork, according to Estell. The school district will use the property, which holds the now-empty city reservoirs, for additional parking for high school events.
One of many classrooms in the former East Junior High School building in East Liverpool gets the once-over by (from left) city Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell, school district buildings and grounds Director Mark Reed, Treasurer Todd Puster and Superintendent James Herring. (Photo by Jo Ann Bobby-Gilbert)
the officials' tour proved somewhat nostalgic as Herring recalled the days when it played host to "the biggest junior high school game in the area" between the East Junior Panthers and Westgate Wildcats.
The school, built in 1954-1955 was used until the early 1980s as the junior high, then by the Ohio Valley Business College before being turned over in the mid-1990s for use as the district's administrative offices.
Those offices were relocated to the Westgate complex due, in part, to the need to renovate the Maryland Avenue building.
Nonetheless, during their walk-through, officials pointed out the still-viable aspects of the 50,000-square-foot building, including the terrazzo tile floors and glazed tile walls that are still pristine, if in need of some buffing.
"Back in the day, a lot of that went into this building, and a lot of money," Puster pointed out, referring to the expensive cost of such materials at that time.
"It's sad. They don't build buildings like this any more," Herring agreed.
Reed added, "There's a lot of history here."
In addition to the top-quality materials used in its construction, the building still boasts some of its original classroom amenities, such as deep wooden drawers in a sewing cupboard in the former home economics room and an unusual floor in the wood shop made from boards sank six inches into the ground, leaving the highly-grained ends looking like brick.
The gym floor is still as scratch-free as the last time a basketball game was played on it, and the motorized bleachers still work, officials pointed out.
Throughout the building, mementoes were piled up, ready for relocation to other buildings, including a collage of photos that included students lost too soon in accidents and in Iraq.
The cornerstone plaque will be donated to the East Liverpool Historical Society, Herring indicated.
A room dedicated to air monitoring by the Environmental Protection Agency will be moved to a station in the yard, according to Estell, who said the agency will pay for that, not the city or school district.
Although classroom floors have asbestos tile, officials said there is no issue with it unless it is removed or gets wet. Estell said an asbestos hazard report was completed in August and nothing more will be needed for three years.
With the deed now transferred, the city will assume the cost of maintaining and heating the building, and Estell said it has been added to the city's insurance policy, with all unnecessary water and electrical breakers shut off.
Reed will monitor the boilers until all school district files and other belongings are moved out, he added.
The city has been in discussions with a company interested in purchasing the building, and Estell said, "We're trying to work with the state Department of Development and other agencies to find funding to help repair it. My belief is, if we can get state assistance, this company will be in here as soon as possible."