PIQUA — With the old elementary buildings coming down, the Piqua City Schools met with Piqua commissioners and other city representatives on Thursday to discuss possible repurposing opportunities once the lands are vacant.
The district reached out to city commissioners for ideas of what the lots can be used for. The school board emphasized the priority outcome of the lots to be in the best interest of the community.
“I think we are more interested in what’s best for the community and not the dollar amount,” Superintendent Rick Hanes said. “We wanted to make sure if we do anything with our vacant lots that it would benefit the city and community.”
The district at this time is turning the lots into green spaces until they decide on other uses of the space. Some of the suggestions commissioners made included neighborhood parks or residential developments. City representatives are not making the final decision on the lots; it is up to the district on the final outcome.
“We are looking at things through a collaborative lens and seeing what we can do for the best interest of the community,” City Planner Chris Schmiesing said. “We want (the lots) to be something that fits in and compliments the area.”
The lot that was of high interest to the city board was Bennett Intermediate. Located along the river, the space could be integrated into the city’s Riverfront development project, bringing community members to the river.
“I think it lends itself to be a part of the Riverfront redevelopment project,” City Manager Gary Huff said. Mayor Lucy Fess made suggestions such as the land being used for a restaurant or a canoe rental establishment and referred to the lot as a “game changer” for the city.
Ward 2 Commissioner Bill Vogt suggested that the lot for Wilder Intermediate could have the potential of being a recreational site given the demographics of the area, while others suggested implementing residential homes. There were issues by both boards about maintaining the lots.
“We have enough properties to maintain,” said Frank Patrizio, vice president of the board of education.
“If we want to see (the Wilder lot) as a park, that’s fine. I just don’t want to see the school having to maintain it.”
As for the city taking responsibility for recreational lots, a potential problem is seen there as well.
“If we have more parks, I don’t know how we are going to keep it presentable,” said Joe Wilson, third ward commissioner.
Fess went on to explain that the city is taking on many parks and may only be able to sustain a small park.
Dialogue on business developers purchasing the lots and repurposing them was also a part of the conversation. Fess said there has been a tremendous increase in housing starts coming into Piqua, such as Indian Ridge Properties.
“Once the developers know that there is land available, they will step up,” Vogt said. “Right now, they don’t know about them.”
All of the former elementary buildings are expected to go through asbestos, demolition, and be transformed into grass land by December. Both boards are interested in conducting individual meetings with communities within the area of each lot. A final decision was not made at this meeting.
Reach Amy Barger at (937) 451-3340.