No firm plan set for old Austintown school

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The old Austintown middle school has been abandoned for nearly seven years. Potential buyers have come and gone but no offer stuck and the building remains empty and dilapidated.

The school was built in the early 1900s and by the time it closed, old horse-hair plaster ceilings were collapsing in the classrooms.

There have been plans to sell it, or use it for school district purposes but now Superintendent Vince Colaluca said firm plans need to be made.

“The board continually talked about it. What use we are going to have for the property. Are we going to use it for educational purposes? We know we have a need for soccer areas, and we know we have a need for tennis courts,” Colaluca said. “The board is going to have to determine when the litigation is done what direction we are going to go in after that.”

The property is located on Mahoning Avenue in the heart of Austintown’s’ commercial district. The school system had hoped to be able to sell the property at a handsome price. But when the first auction was held, the bidder walked away from a $2.6 million purchase price. Then, concerns over the soil held up a deal.

Finally, the most recent time the school board examined the sale, heirs from the Fitch family asserted a legal claim. Colaluca is urging patience while the board sorts out the problem.

“Any time you are in litigation, it takes time,” Colaluca said. “There are many things that come up that affect what we do as an organization.”

When the real estate deal to sell the school was broken, the school system was permitted to keep the $260,000 dollar deposit.

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