Another historic abandoned Rock Island school faces demolition, as aldermen Monday night will consider repealing landmark designation for the old Audubon Elementary, 2617 18th Ave.
Last Nov. 13, the Rock Island School Board approved an agreement with Fareway Inc. to sell the Audubon School for $475,000. Fareway plans to demolish the 1922-23 building and construct a grocery store at the site but has not submitted an application torezone the property.
On Feb. 15, the cityreceived a landmark designation application package from Alexandra Elias, a formerresident of Rock Island now living in San Diego, for the former Audubon School site.The application was placed on the March 27 agenda of the Rock Island Preservation Commission for a "preliminary determination of significancefor landmark designation" by the Preservation Ordinance.
A public hearing washeld on April 24, and the school board unanimously voted to oppose proposed historic landmark designation. There were many residents in attendance fromthe neighborhood surrounding the Audubon School and several spoke in favor of thelandmark designation. After a lengthy publichearing, the Preservation Commission voted 8-0 to designate the formerAudubon School site as a historic landmark.
School District superintendent Michael Oberhaus has submitted an appeal letter dated May 7. The City Council may consider other relevantfactors, including economic considerations, not considered by the PreservationCommission, in its handling of the property. Dr. Oberhaus' letter cites "continuing maintenance of the property is anongoing expense that could be better used for our core mission – Educating Children."Rejection of the commission's decision requires a two-thirds majority vote of the council.
Prior to the Fareway offer, the Audubon property (closed as a school three years ago) had been on the market for two years and no other offers had been made, according to Dr. Oberhaus' letter. "The additional requirements of the Landmark Designation will diminish the types of purchasers, reducing the opportunity for a sale," he wrote. "Having a vacant school on a high traffic street will not be in anyone's best interest."
The district requests that the City Council not approve landmark designation for the property, and the city planning staff recommends overturning the designation, according to a council memo.
If aldermen agree, it would mirror action by a previous city council in2007, when the council and former Mayor Mark Schwiebert voted 7-1 to rescind historic landmark designation for the former Villa de Chantal property at 2101 16th Ave., clearing the way for demolition and construction of the Rock Island Center for Math & Science. That school opened in May 2010, serving 550 students in pre-K to sixth grade.
Approval from six of the eight present then also was required to overturn the Preservation Commission's landmark protection for the Villa. Thatwas the first time since the city preservation ordinance was adopted in 1984 that such designation was rescinded on an existing building. The Villa -- a former girls school and convent, built between 1901 and 1929 -- was also on the National Register of Historic Places, but was badly damaged by a fire.
Last August and September, the long-vacant 1893 Lincoln School was torn down at 2125 7th Ave. The city had owned that property since 2007. In April 2012, the City Council asked the Rock Island Preservation Commission for a "certificate of appropriateness," to allow demolition, but the commission denied the council's request.
On May 7, almost exactly a year ago, the council voted 6-1 to override the Preservation Commission's denial.
At Monday's 6:45 p.m. meeting, aldermen also are scheduled to approve a road reconstruction project of nearly $1 million: 5th Street between 18th and 26th avenues is to be rebuilt. The city'slow bid is from Walter D. Laud, in the amount of $964,638.13, which is 38 percent lower than the engineer's estimate of $1.56 million, according to a council memo.
The council meets in the third floor of city hall, 1528 3rd Ave. for the complete agenda (including Preservation Commission meeting minutes), visit rigov.org.
Today is Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: A corps of surgeons now occupies the new hospital quarters at the Garrison Hospital on the Rock Island Arsenal. A fence has been installed to enclose the prison hospital. 1889 -- 125 years ago: B. Winter has let a contract to Christ Schreiner for a two story brick building with a double store front on the south side of 3rd Avenue just west of 17th Street. The estimated cost was $4,500. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Germany sent simultaneous ultimatums to Russia and France, demanding that Russia suspend mobilization within 12 hours and demanding that France inform Germany within 18 hours. In the case of war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Civil service offices at the post office and the Rock Island Arsenal were swamped as more than 700 youths sought 15 machinist apprenticeships at the Arsenal. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Last night, American Legion Post 246 in Moline figuratively handed over the trousers to a female ex-Marine and petticoat rule began. Olga Swanson, of Moline, was installed as the first woman commander of the post . 1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Quad City Civic Center captured the excitement and interest of a convention of auditorium managers this weekend in Reno, Nev. Bill Adams, civic center authority chairman, said the 10,000-seat arena planned for downtown Moline has caught the eye of construction firms, suppliers, management teams and concession groups.