Andrew Trzaska | December 10, 2012
Long were Roosevelt School and Lindbergh School two active neighborhood centers in Muskegon Heights. Today, they stand unused, and could be gutted or even demolished in the near future.
Knowing this, the City of Muskegon Heights is authorized its city manager to make a move to purchase two closed buildings and their land, both formerly used by the nearly-dormant Muskegon Heights Public School district.
The use of Lindbergh School and Roosevelt School was ramped down over the past couple of years by the school district as its enrollment dropped and its finances grew worse. Mosaica Education, operator of the new charter school academy, has not leased these buildings from the dormant district.
Dr. Donald Weatherspoon, emergency financial manager for Muskegon Heights Public Schools, recently put the buildings up for auction for scrapping. Weatherspoon did not accept the top bids that came back at approximately $5,300, according to city manager Natasha Henderson.
Henderson’s office brought a resolution to the city council and mayor on Monday asking for support to pursue the city purchase of Lindbergh and Roosevelt. With known about the emergency manager’s vision for the buildings beyond gutting the fixtures inside and boarding it up, Henderson suggested an opportunity for the city to cease the stripping of the interiors and attempt to redevelop the properties.
“We think they are in fact viable and can be developed,” said Henderson.
The resolution passed Monday would not finalize any purchase agreements. It would simply give the city manager support to pursue a purchase from the district, via emergency financial manager. If initial negotiations with the emergency financial manager continued to a point, the city manager would come back to the city council and mayor to approve any proposal.
On a question from councilwoman Bonnie McGlothin, Henderson also explained what the city would do with the property after a potential purpose. One plan for marketing the property if they are secured by the city – sending out listings on a nationwide for the two schools, along with the Strand Building and the defunct Holiday Inn/Days Inn property at Seaway Drive and Hoyt Street.
Any requests for proposals, for renovation or for purchase that may come from this potential plan cannot be approved by the city manager independently, but must be approved by the city council before solicited.
Council reaction appeared relatively positive on the matter. The vote passed 6-0 in favor, with councilman Keith Guy absent from Monday’s meeting.
“I think this is a smart move to make,” said mayor pro tem Patrice Johnson.
“I think that’s a really good way to see development in our city and work together to think outside the box,” said councilwoman Kimberly Sims.
At this time, the city manager will proceed in formally reaching out to the emergency financial manager’s office about purchase of the property. Meanwhile, Henderson did ask the council and mayor to reach out to Dr. Weatherspoon as well to support the effort.