School suit considered

By Tim Yovich

A judge ruled the need for a permanent injunction is moot.

WARREN — A group opposing the demolition of the original Warren G. Harding High School is considering a lawsuit to prevent the historic structure from being razed.

Atty. Irene K. Makridis of Warren, who represents the Save Harding Committee, said Monday that the filing of a lawsuit will depend on the amount of bond required that must be posted with the Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. The bond would be used to protect the Warren Board of Education from liability if the board was forced to void demolition contracts because of the lawsuit.

The board decided in March to demolish most of the building, except for the facade, to make room for a road to serve the new high school being built adjacent to the old school at Elm Road and Atlantic Street. The new school is scheduled to open in the fall.

Preservationists want to retain the facade, offices behind it and an auditorium.

Four members of the group obtained a temporary restraining order Friday from Judge John M. Stuard to halt a Saturday auction at the high school so items could not be sold.

After meeting Monday with Makridis and Atty. Steven A. Friedman, the board’s attorney, Judge W. Wyatt McKay ruled that articles of historic value at the school were not auctioned and the need for a permanent injunction was moot.

Schools Superintendent Kathryn Hellweg would not respond to questions after Judge McKay’s ruling.

In a news release, Dawn Marzano, district spokeswoman, said none of the items sold at the auction was valued at more than $10,000 and only loose fixtures were auctioned.

As a result, Marzano said, the school district lost about $18,000 by not selling some fixtures.

The board will begin demolition in a few months.

Al Novak, a city councilman and committee member, explained that a brass doorknob already had been taken from the school and that solid oak doors were sold for $10 each, far below their market value.

The group hasn’t been opposed to selling desks, tables and chairs, Novak added.

Dave Ambrose, another committee member, said the district could save money by not demolishing the building, and the auditorium could be used for meetings and performances.

One of the reasons the board has given for demolishing the auditorium is because it isn’t being used.

Novak explained that the committee is attempting to delay the demolition process in hopes of getting the building designated by the Ohio Historical Society so it is eligible for government grants to preserve it.

“This is a green endeavor,” said committee member Alex Bobersky, noting the building contains “gifts from the past.”

Another member, Betty Dailey, explained that other communities have saved historic school buildings and they have served as focal points for development.

“The board may not believe there is any value in the [old] school, but it has value to the community,” Dailey said.

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