Grant may help fund cleanup of historic high school in Boynton
Thursday, 02 June 2016 21:34

Attiyya AnthonyContact Reporter Sun Sentinel
June 2, 2016
Boynton redevelopment agency hopes to clean up inside of historic high school
The inside of Boynton Beach's historic high school may soon be free of the asbestos, animal droppings and mold, which had prompted city officials to vote to tear it down last year.
The Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency has applied for a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up environmental hazards inside of the city's historic high school, 125 E. Ocean Ave., officials say.
Vivian Brooks, the redevelopment agency's executive director, said that the agency will know later this month if it will receive the grant. The grant is administered by the county and is for up to $350,000. The redevelopment agency would be required to match the award, Brooks said.
The high school was scheduled for demolition last year after the City Commission said that the asbestos, mold and structural issues made the building unsafe. Residents and a developer petitioned the city to save the building, and a set of newly elected commissioners pushed to keep the building standing.
"Previous administrations hadn't given city staff unequivocal direction of where they wanted to see the city go and do with the high school," Mayor Steven Grant said. "That's one thing that this commission is doing different."
Commissioner Justin Katz said that he wanted to guarantee the school's "restoration and preservation" and that it was included in the city's downtown redevelopment plans.
Commissioner Christina Romelus said that it's time for something to happen in the building, which has been vacant for close to 30 years. "For a long time something needed to be done [with the building], I'm happy something might be done."
Brooks said that cleaning up the inside of building is a step toward preserving the structure.
"We wouldn't be investing this amount of money if we're not going in the direction of keeping the building," Brooks said.
In February, West Palm Beach-based architect Rick Gonzalez drew up the most recent plan to save the building, which includes housing art classes, a green market and retail stores within the learning center.
The building used to be the site of basketball games, community fish fries and dance recitals. It was used as a high school until 1949 and as an elementary and middle school until 1990. After that, the city used it as a storage facility.
Commissioner Joe Casello said that in addition to cleaning up the dirt inside, "some of the money could be used on the roof," which leaks. "Any kind of money we can get to secure the building and make it happen is great," Casello said.
Mike Fitzpatrick, a former commissioner who attended school in the high school, said, "I think it's a great idea. Things are moving in the right direction, but the ship is not in port yet."

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