PENDLETON, Ind. — Editor's note: This article originally contained a passage suggesting that the public would have a 12-month period to come up with uses for the old school building. But no such waiting period will be observed; the building is earmarked for demolition.
After a failed attempt last year, the South Madison Community School Corp. once again approached the Pendleton Historic Preservation Commission Tuesday evening for permission to demolish the old high school building. A 2-1 vote gave that approval.
“We all would love the school building to stand,” said school district attorney Jack Hittle. But it’s just no longer financially feasible, he added.
Earlier this year, Madison Circuit Court 6 Judge Dennis Carroll denied the school district’s petition to throw out the commission’s earlier decision to deny demolition because he ruled the school corporation hadn’t “satisfied its burden as a matter of law” by proving the building is incapable of earning an economic return on its value.
The school district submitted a feasibility study with its application Tuesday evening that Hittle said showed dramatic remodeling changes would have to be made to meet building codes. And, he added, the building just isn’t capable of earning an economic return on its $104,000 value right now.
The district is spending $30,000 a year just to let it sit, Hittle said. And the school corporation says it doesn’t need the building for space.
As an example comparison, Superintendent Joe Buck said it would be cheaper to tear the building down, add parking spaces and classrooms to Pendleton Intermediate than it would be to remodel the old high school.
With South Madison spending over $50,000 in legal fees last year regarding the topic, Hittle said, he urged the commission to accept the application to demolish to avoid more.
“Things are changing. We need to ask ourselves is that a good use of our money,” he said.