Superintendent Richard Markwardt informed the West Geauga Board of Education that they should expect wetland and environmental analysis results of the former Newbury campus as soon as their April 12 meeting.

In January, the board approved an agreement with Newmark Real Estate of Ohio, LLC to conduct a feasibility study on available best uses for the Newbury campus, which included the wetland and environmental study.

The former Newbury Local School District closed last summer and joined West Geauga in a territory transfer. Since its closure, Dr. Markwardt formed a superintendent committee to explore potential uses of the building using the findings from community forums last year.

Newbury Trustee Bill Skomrock also formed a task force committee to explore the feasibility of the township’s acquisition of the property and converting it into a community center.

When the analysis agreement was originally approved, Dave Hollister, the representative of Newmark, was roughly estimated to present findings to the board in March. Dr. Markwardt updated the board on the status of the campus in his report during their regular meeting Monday, conducted virtually via Zoom.

“There, you will have a better idea of where we are in the process of determining the highest and best use opportunities for the Newbury campus,” he said of the slated April 12 update.

As of Monday, the wetland study has been completed, Dr. Markwardt said, and the environmental study was in its second phase.

The overall agreement entailed three main steps, including information gathering on wetlands, environmental studies and potential best uses; consultation to determine other potential needs for the property; then, if the district were to decide this as the most feasible option, brokerage services to facilitate the disposition of the property.

In other news related to the former campus, Dr. Markwardt said maintenance repairs were underway at the main school building where roof leaks have developed.

“We experienced several roof leaks in the larger building with the melting of the snow,” he told the board of the former K-12 school building. “The cafeteria right now is covered with a lot of sheets because what we discovered was that some of the roof repairs that were done were temporary in nature.”

He said several areas in the building have sustained “quite a bit of water coming in.

“We’re trying to do our best to maintain the buildings in a way that preserves the appearance of the buildings in such a way that we don’t see the building deteriorating,” he added. “We want to make sure that while they’re standing that they’re maintained.”

Board member Kathy Leavenworth commented that it might be hard for the district to continue maintaining the buildings with uncertainty surrounding their use.

“If they’re going to be demolished – I mean, I don’t know, we’ve come pretty close to making those decisions, but we’re waiting to find out – we don’t want to put very much money into [the buildings],” she said.

Dr. Markwardt said the district is “Band-Aiding” the roof currently, explaining previous repairs done were temporary repairs the district is mitigating in the meantime.

“As you say, the condition of that building, we’re discovering with the more layers of the onion we peel back in that building, the more serious the problems are,” he said. “The smaller building [the auditorium] is not in as rough a shape as the larger.”

Sam joined the Times in 2019 and covers several communities and schools in the Chagrin Valley and Geauga County. She also oversees the features/community events and the website. She earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University.

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