Village preparing to demolish former Graham school

SAINT PARIS - The former Graham Elementary School at 370 E. Main St. in Saint Paris has sat mostly unused since the Village purchased the building from the School District in 2017. 

After the last class walked the halls was in the early 2000s, the building was used as an online school and as the District Offices for the Graham Board of Education. 

Saint Paris Village Administrator Spencer Mitchell says the Village utilizes two exterior buildings for the Street Department and storage. The main building on the property has become an eyesore for residents and a liability for the city. 

“The building was falling apart” says Mitchel, citing everything from metal falling off the roof to the poor air quality inside. 

Mitchell began his career with Saint Paris in May of 2017 at the Water Department, three months after the purchase.  “I know there were plans to do something with the building,” says Mitchell, “ but we get new elected officials and new plans.”

Once Mitchell became Village Administrator in 2018, he began planning ahead. “We had better make a plan to deal with (the building) before it falls down and we are stuck without a plan.” 

Mitchell states that the current administration and council are in agreement that the building must be demolished. The task is difficult with no future plans for the building as the Village must deal with the most cost effective way to move forward. 

The Village has sought estimates for demolition but discovered the building was littered with asbestos.  According to Mitchell, the asbestos was removed in the fall of 2020 at a cost of $21,000. Windows, flooring and even light bulbs were removed during the asbestos abatement.

A public auction on December 26 of 2020 sold off any and all items of value inside the building. After costs to the auctioneer, the auction yielded  $7,790.65 in profits for the Village. “It was very nostalgic, we had folks here reminiscing while trying to hold on to history” says Mitchell, a former student at this building. “I ran into my math teacher!”

This balance of progress with respect to history is what Mitchell hopes to convey to the community. “I know this building is historically important, and we must not disrespect our history. However; it is important to utilize that land for Saint Paris as a whole. ” 

Mitchell is seeking a more accurate cost of demolition now the asbestos and “debris” have been removed. Once received, Mitchell will make a decision on the best route for demolition and then present the findings to Council to approve and budget demolition. 

Those who purchased items at the auction have until January 15 to pick up their items purchased at auction. On that date, the building will be sealed and no one allowed inside per the liability to the Village.  

The next meeting of the Saint Paris Village Council will be on January, 18 at 7pm. Due to the pandemic, meetings are held on the Village’s Facebook page. To be considered for the public comments, you must email your comment to spencer.mitchell@stparisohio.gov

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