Bid accepted: Lakota’s old Union School to come down

The walls of one of Lakota's oldest schools will be tumbling down next month after district officials approved a demolition bid that pushes a new Boys & Girls Club closer to reality.

And the former Union Elementary School’s demolition will cost less than half its original estimate, said Lakota officials.

The Lakota school board this week approved a $236,000 demolition bid, which includes abatement of hazardous materials from the former school in Olde West Chester.

Original estimates for leveling the old school were approximately $500,000.

The abandoned school and surrounding nine-acre campus at 8735 Cincinnati Dayton Road will be the site of a $6.5 million Boys & Girls Club of West Chester and Liberty townships in Butler County.

Private fundraising by club officials — including a recent $300,000 state grant — has raised more than $5.5 million toward the club's goal of $9 million for new facility scheduled to open in early 2018.

Lakota officials signed a 2014 collaborative agreement with youth club officials for a long-term, land lease citing prohibitive costs of maintaining the empty school.

“We remain focused on this partnership’s potential to serve our youth in a meaningful way,” said Lakota Superintendent Karen Mantia after the board’s vote. “We’re also pleased with how it addresses the costly alternative of maintaining or renovating the building while allowing the district to retain ownership of really valuable acreage.”

Lakota officials said following the removal of asbestos from the building, the leveling of the building is scheduled to begin in mid-August. Construction of the Boys & Girls Club will start soon after the school is demolished.

The 2014 agreement was contingent on club officials raising enough private and state money by June 2016, which officials reached.

School officials have also praised the deal as a cost effective lease given the district retains ownership of the land as compared to spending an estimated $10 million to renovate and maintain the current building.

The school site’s historic significance will be preserved, according to Lakota officials.

The district has helped form a committee to assist with a Lakota student’s Eagle Scout project that will memorialize the former school.

MORE: Residents protest demolition of former school

More details about how the community can be involved in the project will be available in upcoming weeks.

“Celebrating and capturing our history is an important part of this whole process,” Mantia said. “The thought and energy going into the memorial project is incredible and I really think the community will be pleased with the final result.”

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