Asbestos costs revive talks on moving Mooney
By Denise Dick
Bishop George V. Murry’s decision to keep Cardinal Mooney High School in the city isn’t a done deal.
A Wednesday statement from the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown says that new information about the cost of asbestos remediation to the school building has prompted the bishop to review his June 4 decision to keep Mooney on Erie Street.
Bishop Murry has appointed a committee to review information regarding the school renovation. The committee includes a parent, a pastor and people with expertise in Catholic school mission, education, finance and building construction.
Nicholas Wolsonovich, superintendent of schools for the diocese, said that all buildings constructed in the 1950s contain asbestos and by federal law, steps must be taken to address it.
The school has abided by those laws.
“When you’re looking at removing it and tearing apart the building, that’s when the costs increased,” he said.
Information about the asbestos was given to the bishop by Mooney’s board of directors.
The committee is expected to report to Bishop Murry by July 31. “If the recommendation from the committee is not to move, and the bishop reaffirms his earlier decision, the president and board will be asked to begin a capital campaign to raise money for the necessary renovations,” the diocese statement says.
If the committee’s recommendation is to relocate the school to the suburbs and it’s approved by the bishop, the bishop will ask the school president and board of directors to “conduct a feasibility study to determine whether or not there are sufficient resources to building a new school, in accord with Diocesan financial policy,” the statement says.
The whole process is expected to be completed in about two months.
Wolsonovich said the 2013-14 school year will begin as scheduled in the existing location.
Several months ago, the estimated cost of building a new school in southern Mahoning County was $25 million. The cost to renovate at the city location was $18 million. Wolsonovich said that part of the committee’s charge is to determine the cost estimate for a renovation that includes the asbestos remediation.
City Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th, doesn’t want the school to leave the city.
“The city has stated we’ll do whatever we can to help,” she said. “We have in the past removed asbestos from houses that are being demolished and there are also some grants from the state of Ohio.”
Tarpley isn’t sure if the school would qualify for any of those public programs considering its religious affiliation, but said it could be referred to the city’s economic development department to determine if anything can be done.
Wolsonovich said that since the bishop’s decision earlier this month, the diocese has heard both from people supporting the school staying in the city and those who want it moved to the suburbs — and has listened to both sides.