The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Local Education

July 15, 2013

Should the Wigwam stay or should it go?

City, school officials wrestling on what to do with iconic gym

ANDERSON, Ind. — With a roof that's in bad shape, it could be Mother Nature, or unfortunate circumstance, that decides the iconic Wigwam's fate.

Unless someone else steps up to the plate.

On July 7, someone broke out a window on the north end of the building, entered the vacant former home of Anderson High School basketball and set off multiple fire extinguishers, causing a haze that set off a fire alarm and alerted the fire department.

It was the second time in just a few weeks that someone had broken in, Anderson police said. Break-ins at the now empty arena aren’t common, but have occurred a handful of times since the gym closed in 2011.

"It is an empty building attracting vandalism," Anderson Community Schools Superintendent Felix Chow said.

It's happened with other buildings ACS has closed, such as Killbuck, reopening this fall as a kindergarten extension for Valley Grove and Eastside elementaries. It's had some graffiti, Chow said.

With the Wigwam, "it could have been worse," he added.

There were signs of mild vandalism July 7, but no damage done in the gym. The break-in weeks earlier had resulted in damage to some cameras and other equipment.

ACS still hasn't decided what to do with the building. Chow said the district hasn't received any solid proposals in writing yet.

"There's a huge step between talking and making a real commitment," he added.

City Director of Economic Development Greg Winkler said there's ongoing interest and effort to reuse the building in a productive way that includes local, regional and national entities.

"It is a challenging project, but there may yet be hope," he said in an email response.

He didn't want to release any details until they can be finalized, as to not raise hopes too high, but said the city hasn't forgotten about the Wigwam.

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