PENDLETON — After long discussions about possibly preserving the old high school building in Pendleton, the local school board has officially begun looking for bidders to tear down the historic school building.
Chris Boots, president of the South Madison Community School Corporation board, said the plan is to have the building torn down during the summer when students will not be on the Pendleton Heights campus.
"The board has made the decision to move forward," Boots said. "We were hoping to have it torn down last summer."
The battle over whether or not to tear down the building, which opened in 1936, has been going on for years. The school corporation doesn't have any use for the old, expensive building while proponents of keeping it standing say the building is a part of the history of the town.
The Pendleton Historical Preservation Commission issued the school corporation a certificate of appropriateness, which essentially allows SMCSC to tear down a historic building. After a court battle with the town of Pendleton over the certificate, a judge gave the board the go-ahead.
Members of the commission did not respond to phone calls on Wednesday.
Boots said the last hurdle has been cleared and the board can now move forward with the bidding process.
The former high school and middle school building was built with money made available under President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" policies in the 1930s. The school corporation has considered the building ready for demolition for the past two years, but local efforts to preserve the building have kept it standing until now.
The local organization Save Our Schools attended several meetings and posted yard signs all over Pendleton trying to raise awareness about the building's possible demise. The organization claimed the building had too much historical significance to be torn down.
Boots argued the opposition wasn't as big as some people made it out to appear.
"It was actually a few people that have a big voice," Boots said.
SMCSC said the building is a health hazard and costs about $30,000 a year to maintain, even without anyone inside.
Boots said the board has not made a decision about what, if anything, will be placed in the vacant lot once the building is torn down.
The school corporation will be taking bids until 2 p.m. Feb. 4. There will be a pre-bid meeting at the building on Jan. 28 at 1:30 p.m. for companies to get a closer look at the three-story building they will have to tear down and remove.
Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB, or call 640-4847.
Tearing down a building The old high school building is three stories tall and approximately 50,000 square feet. It was originally the high school and then became a middle school building. It has sat vacant for years and costs roughly $30,000 a year to maintain. SMCSC cited mold and maintenance issues as grounds for demolition.