It’s no secret that Highland Middle School has been in the wrecking ball’s sight for a while now, but Highland Township Supervisor, Rick Hamill, is currently in negotiations with the Huron Valley School Board to help preserve a part of the building for the entire community to enjoy.
Envisioned is a partnership between the school district and the township that would spare the demolition of the school’s gymnasium.
If saved, Highland Township plans on using the property for community events and gatherings as well as local athletics with the building being available on a rental basis with renters to cover costs like heating and cooling.
There has been a strong desire from the township to save the building for athletic activities. Jeff Muck, Director of Recreation and Community Education for the Huron Valley School District, was stated saying that he thought the preservation of the gymnasium would be valuable to the school system to use as additional space for their sports activities.
“I thought that would be an interesting element to save that part of the building because it could still be used by community and by schools if they wanted to and its something that could be put back to use,” Hamill said.
In order for the building to be fit for operations, it would require the central heating and cooling system to be reinstalled as well as other protective measures to protect the interior of the building during the demolition process.
Rough estimates of $130,000 to $180,000 were made on the minimum cost required to make the gymnasium operable.
“The school system didn’t want to be involved in anymore cost, so that was the offer they wanted to make us. They would save the gym, but the township as a community would be required to re-fit it and this was a project that I felt the community could accomplish,” Hamill said.
Hamill began creating ways to raise money from the community to support the cost of restoring the building and began negotiations with the Huron Valley School Board to move the project forward.
If approved, Hamill plans to run a fundraising campaign to raise investments and donations to support the start-up operations of the building. He would then have to provide the school district with a plan on when the gymnasium can be uplifted and how it will be temporarily preserved.
“Claims were made that there was $150,000 due by February 1 which came as a surprise to our board. We stated all along that the township by law cannot invest in a property they don’t own, but we can support the process and help drive the campaign for funding forward and not let it fall on it’s face,” Hamill said.
For now, negotiations are still in process between the Huron Valley School District and Highland Township and the fate of the Highland Middle School gymnasium remain unknown.
“The school board hasn’t completed the process of deciding what they need to do to negotiate, and it’s all up in the air. Until they respond, I cant take it any further,” Hamill said.