by Elissa Yount
My father attended Clark Street Elementary School in the 20’s, and my children attended in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
At that time, it was truly a neighborhood school as no buses served that school. It was a safe neighborhood, and the students walked to and from school in all kinds of weather.
The parents worked hard to raise money, cleared the grounds for better playgrounds, and saw to it that the school was attractive. As the building of a new Clark Street School progresses, the city council must address the problem of what is going to happen to the old building on Clark Street.
Yes, the school has served its purpose as an elementary school, but the city must insist that it is not left like South Henderson School was left. There must be a plan in place to insure that this does not happen. If this building is allowed to decay and collapse in on itself like South Henderson School, then the neighborhood and the city will suffer greatly. A plan should be made now to prevent this from happening.
This building is the same age as the old West End School on Chestnut Street. Finding another use for the building would be the best thing for the neighborhood. Would this be a good location for the Boys and Girls Club? Does the community need at day care for seniors? Would this be a good place for an alternative school?
The school board, which owns that building, should be required to present to the city their plans for the school. It should be a requirement that they remove the asbestos in the building if they plan to sell or abandon it. If they are to abandon it, they need to present a plan for securing the building, maintaining the yard, and keeping the area looking presentable at all times. They also should be required to demolish the building if a sale is not made within a reasonable amount of time.
The city council has an obligation to the neighbors on Charles, Clark, Montgomery, and all the surrounding neighborhood streets to insist that this building not become a blight on these neighborhoods. They need to act now before the building is vacated. Ask your council representative to see that a plan is in place so that the neighborhoods around Clark Street School are protected.