A Thursday, May 6 court hearing in the lawsuit filed by the City of Lebanon to block the sale of the old Northwest Elementary school to a private developer ended with no resolution, and the dispute may not be decided before September.
The impasse revolves around a pedestrian bridge over North 10th Street that served the school, still owned by the Lebanon School District, before it was closed at the end of the 2017-18 school year.
The school district has agreed to sell the building to a private developer who plans to convert the north side property into an office complex and parking garage. A sale to a private owner would put the property back on city, county, and school district tax rolls for the first time in over four decades.
At the heart of the city’s objection to the sale are ownership, liability, and maintenance issues involving the bridge after a sale to a private owner. The city wants the school district, not a private owner, to continue to be responsible for the bridge. Under a 1977 agreement with the school district, the city leases a small concrete pad on school property that one end of the bridge sits on. That lease runs for 99 years.
After attorneys for the school district and the city met for about 20 minutes outside Common Pleas Judge Bradford Charles’ courtroom, they returned and told the judge that they wanted the hearing postponed until September.
Neither attorney, Donna Brightbill for the city and Michael Bechtold for the school district, gave the court details of any settlement negotiations to date, or why their clients believed a four month delay was needed.
The parties have so far not said publicly whether demolition of the bridge, unused since the school closed, is under consideration.
Judge Charles urged the city and the school district to keep working for a resolution, then entered an order rescheduling the case to a date in September.
Charles also gave the parties 60 days to submit a list of all disputed issues that will have to be decided by the court in September, if they can’t work things out before then.
Other than the attorneys, no representatives of the city or the school district were present in the courtroom yesterday.
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