GRPS Board of Education could demolish old vacant Kensington building
The Grand Rapids Board of Education could demolish an old vacant school building in the Black Hills Neighborhood.
District officials discussed the fate of the Kensington building, on 1031 Kensington Avenue Southwest, at a board meeting on Monday.
Three proposals for the building were on the table, including one that would repurpose the building for transitional housing, however, an ad hoc committee tasked with reviewing the proposal recommended that the board reject all three.
Members from the committee said at the meeting that the building has been broken into and vandalized several times. They added that it required more than “300 man-hours” to maintain the building over the past 12 months. Given the upkeep, the committee said it would be unsuitable for district use.
"Our concern is the amount of damage that's beginning to occur inside the building and with all our efforts to increase security and reinforce some of the doors and windows, it's almost a weekly run for us at late night where someone is in that building and our concern is that someone will get hurt in that building with the amount of damage and glass that continues to be broken," Larry Johnson, a member of the ad hoc committee said. Johnson is the Chief of Staff & Executive Director of Public Safety & School Security.
School board member Jen Schottke said what she heard from community members at a recent town hall was a request for community benefit.
“Those that live near the neighborhood, being able to look out at the forests and the trees and the green space that are adjacent to the property and that is a priority, so we the ad hoc facilities committee heard those recommendations, and voted to move forward to do just that,” she said.
Schottke recommended the building be demolished and added that the district should retain the property for the restoration of green space.
A final decision whether to level the building has not been made yet. The next school board meeting is scheduled for May 15.