2nd meeting set on fate of old Ontonagon school

Photo provided by Joe Erickson The former Ontonagon Area School building contains many unique features, including artistic tiles in the Kindergarten classroom's goldfish pond and other locations.

ONTONAGON — Ontonagon Village is having a second public town hall meeting on the fate of the old Ontonagon school next week.

The topic is complicated. The village is considering acquiring the property, which will otherwise be put up for tax sale, and is open to community suggestions on potential reuse.

The initial cost for the village to acquire the Greenland Road property would be $16,000. It’s listed at $44,000 for delinquent taxes, $28,000 of which is delinquent village water charges the village would write off.

Since public access isn’t possible now, Village Manager Joe Erickson took hundreds of pictures of the building’s many unique features.

Many residents and others who attended school in the buildings have a sentimental attachment to the school, and would like to see it reused.

Without some work soon, at least some parts of the three-part structure will deteriorate and may become a liability for the village, part of the reason officials were considering the purchase.

Although the entire structure is considered sound at this point, the oldest portion of the three buildings that make up the school structure dates back to 1912. However, that section was gutted by fire in 1929 and rebuilt in 1930. The second, center section was built in 1938, and the third section, or annex, was added in 1968.

While not a popular option, demolition for part or all of the school is another possibility, the costs for which are expected to be part of new information presented at the meeting.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday at the Gogebic Ontonagon Community Action Agency at 429 River St. in Ontonagon.

At the first meeting on May 25, the village asked people to answer three questions: Do you think the old elementary school should be acquired by the village? What do you think should be done with the building? How should renovations and operations be paid for?

A link to the questionnaire can be found on the village website. Answers to the questions can be emailed to: Villagetanya@jamadots.com by June 25.